Americans Pessimistic About Future of US, Poll Shows

(CN) – When Americans imagine the future of the U.S., most envision a country that will be more politically divided and less important in the world, with more income inequality and less job security, the Pew Research Center reported Thursday.

(Universal Pictures Home Entertainment via AP)

The Pew survey, focused on what Americans think the U.S. will be like in 2050, found that a majority (56 percent) say they are somewhat optimistic about the country’s future, but when they are asked about specific issues, “hope gives way to doubt,” the report states.  

The survey found that Democrats and Republicans alike agree that political polarization will worsen in the future. Sixty-five percent of Americans overall, including 68 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of Democrats, predict the country will grow more politically divided over the next 30 years.

Sixty percent of Americans believe the country will become less important on the world stage, and 53 percent expect that China will “definitely or probably” overtake the U.S. as the world’s superpower.

Americans are also pessimistic about income inequality and the economy. Seventy-three percent believe the gap between the rich and the poor will grow over the next few decades, and 54 percent say the U.S. economy will be weaker than it is today. Democrats (58 percent) are more likely to say the economy will grow weaker over the next 30 years than Republicans (49 percent).

White Americans are more pessimistic than black or Hispanic Americans about the future of the economy. Fifty-seven percent of whites, 48 percent of blacks and 43 percent of Hispanics believe the economy will be weaker.

It is predicted that people ages 65 and older will outnumber those younger than 18, according to the Pew report, and survey respondents told researchers they expect that older Americans are going to have a tougher time in 2050 than they do now.

Seventy-two percent of Americans say older adults will be less prepared for retirement in 2050 than they are today, and 83 percent say most people will have to work into their 70s before they will be able to afford to retire.

Forty-two percent of Americans who are not yet retired expect that Social Security will not have enough money to provide them benefits, and another 42 percent expect that these benefits will be reduced from what they are today.

Americans are also anticipating a major worldwide energy crisis and a deteriorating environment.

Forty-six percent say an energy crisis will probably occur in the next 30 years, and 21 percent say such a crisis will definitely occur.  

Fifty-nine percent of Americans believe the condition of the environment will be worse in 2050 than it is now, although Democrats and Republicans have different outlooks. Seventy-percent of Democrats believe the environment will be worse, but only 43 percent of Republicans say the same.

Republicans and Democrats also have different opinions about what the government should do to improve the quality of life for future generations of Americans.

Health care is a top priority for Democrats. Eighty-three percent say the government should prioritize providing “high quality, affordable health care to all.” Sixty-nine percent of Democrats say that dealing with climate change should be a priority, 66 percent say increasing spending for education should be prioritized, and 58 percent believe the government should focus on reducing the gap between rich and poor.

Republicans’ top priority is reducing the number of undocumented immigrants coming into the U.S. Sixty-five percent say the government needs to prioritize that, 57 percent say the priority should be reducing the national debt, and 50 percent say the priority should be avoiding tax increases.

Forty-eight percent of Republicans say the government should focus on providing quality, affordable health care, and 36 percent say the focus should be on increasing spending for education.

The Pew report also examined the public’s views of racial and ethnic demographic changes in the country.

The U.S. Census says that blacks, Hispanics and Asians will make up the majority of the population of the country in the year 2050, and 42 percent of Americans believe this change will be “neither good nor bad.” Thirty-five percent say this will be very or somewhat good, and 23 percent say this will be very or somewhat bad.

Despite the public’s neutral views on the shifting racial and ethnic demographics of the country, most Americans (49 percent) believe that having a majority non-white population will lead to more conflicts between racial and ethnic groups.  

Data for the new Pew report was drawn from a survey of 2,524 adults conducted online between Dec. 11 and Dec. 23 last year.

%d bloggers like this: