Economic and societal concerns – including stagnant growth, the erosion of social cohesion and wellbeing, and increasing levels of national debt – are front of mind for businesses, according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Executive Opinion Survey (EOS).
Executives were asked to identify the risks they considered the biggest threats to their country over the next two years. More than 11,000 responses from executives across 113 economies reflect continuing unease over the strength of the global economy, access to human capital, and the availability of energy amid high levels of societal discontent.
Top risk concerns by economy
Top risk concerns by region
Record levels of inflation, a pervasive cost-of-living crisis, energy supply challenges, and the extreme weather events that devastated communities in many countries drove a relatively consistent set of top business leader concerns across regions. The strength of sentiment on these issues resulted in a lower profile for geopolitical and technological risks.
- With recession still looming and debts – both public and household – mounting, “economic downturn”, “inflation”, and “public debt” feature heavily among the top ten risks in every economy.
- Reflecting the cost-of-living crisis and frequent worker strike actions in many countries, “inequality (wealth, income)” and "erosion of social cohesion and wellbeing" are top ten risks for business executives in high-, upper-middle-, lower-middle-, and low-income countries alike.
- In a year of notable extreme heat events, wildfires, droughts, floods, and windstorms in nearly every region, and with weather patterns already in an El Niño phase, it is no surprise that “extreme weather events” are a top-ten concern worldwide.
- Given the intense focus on economic, societal, and (to a lesser extent) geopolitical issues, cyber and technological risks feature less prominently in the rankings. However, executives based in high-income countries placed “cybercrime and cyber insecurity” as well as “misinformation and disinformation” in the top 10.