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Terror fears fall among world concerns

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Much of the world is getting over the fear of terrorism engendered by the September 11 attacks in the United States, according to a private annual survey aimed at assessing the mood of the world's population.

Global confidence "now registers an impressive eight points above the low point recorded in 2003 — and the increased confidence appears to derive in good measure from easing concern about terrorism," says the 2007 "Mood of the World" study, released by the New York-based GfK Roper Consulting firm.

The percentage of those who cited terrorism as their main concern decreased by four points this year, the biggest change of any of the respondents' 19 concerns.

More than 30,000 interviews with men and women ages 13 to 65 were conducted in 25 countries.

Britain's respondents expressed the most concern about terrorism, with 35 percent. A coordinated series of terrorist bombings struck London's public transportation system in July 2005, killing 52 commuters and injuring 700 others, and last month a car-bomb attack was foiled at Scotland's Glasgow International Airport.

The survey reported that "the global share citing the problem as a top concern — an even 20 percent — represents the lowest figure since before the terrorist attacks."

Even so, 62 percent said they expect to be better off in 12 months. Topping the list of the countries whose residents thought their situation will improve in the next year are China and India, with 86 percent and 84 percent of respondents expressing optimism. Only 24 percent of respondents from Japan and Poland were confident that they would fare better next year.

China's hosting of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing played an important role in the country's respondents expressing a high level of optimism, said Kathy Sheehan, senior vice president of GfK Roper Consulting.

"The upcoming Olympics are going to put China on the world stage," Ms. Sheehan said. "It's giving China a visibility that will bolster the country. There is such an energy surrounding the place and that plays a part in the overall atmosphere of its people."

Ms. Sheehan said optimism about life generally results in higher consumer-confidence levels.

"That's good news for countries operating abroad, because as a result they may be more likely to spend and pump money into the economy," she said.

Other highlights of the study were:

c U.S. consumer confidence, after dropping to its lowest percentage since 2001, increased by 10 percentage points to 70 percent.

c Health care and immigration concerns are much higher in the United States than the rest of the world.

c Sixty-nine percent of South Africans listed the AIDS epidemic as their top concern. More than 5 million South Africans are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

c Recession/unemployment and crime/lawlessness were the top concerns worldwide. South Koreans expressed the most concern about recession and unemployment, at 30 percent, while South Africa's respondents were the most concerned about crime and lawlessness, at 66 percent.

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