People in western nations have a cynical view of their children’s economic future, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. The report shows that even as the US economy continues its slow recovery and the European economy experiences a solid stretch of stability, people from Pittsburgh to Paris feel that future generations are going to be worse off than their parents. What’s more, in the US, the economic pessimism break evenly across party lines.
While liberals and conservatives are more divided than ever on political issues, there is one thing both groups appear to agree on: economically, future generations are screwed. That said, the degree to which they are screwed depends largely on whether your run with the elephants or the asses. Half of Republicans surveyed by Pew felt that today’s kids would be worse off in the future. Slightly less than half, at 45 percent, had a rosier view. On the other side of the aisle, Democrats were far more pessimistic. Only 33 percent of those who vote blue felt kids would be better off.
Looking at the combined data from European nations, the US, and Canada, the median rate for a pessimistic outlook of the future economy is a solid 60 percent. Breaking it down, Canadians were 10 percent more pessimistic than Americans, but people from both North American nations were far less pessimistic than the French (so moody) and the Greeks (see: ongoing austerity measures).
Interestingly, the optimism of youth seems to illuminate the economy’s future in a majority of western nations. When polling the younger adults, Pew found that individuals 18 to 29-years old had a far rosier outlook than their more experienced fellow citizens. This was true in America where half of the younger population felt they’d be better off as compared to just less than half (49 percent) who felt they were doomed to have less than their parents. That said, people 50 or older had a much more pessimistic view. In fact, more than 60 percent of these older Americans felt the generations to come would be worse off.
Across the pond, the most optimistic young people in the west were the Swedes, with 63 percent looking forward to prosperity. In stark contrast, young adults in France were far less optimistic with only 15 percent seeing any kind of light in their economic future.
All of this is set against a backdrop of a global economy that appears to be picking up steam, according to recent IMF projections. We’ll side with the teenagers and stay optimistic. But we will not really know who’s right until the future appears.