The economy and national conditions dissatisfy most Americans. According to a new Pew Research Center survey, people envision a worsened nation in the near future.
In 2050, little over 25 years hence, significant majority of U.S. people expect the economy to be weaker, the country to be less important, political divides to widen, and the rich-poor gap to grow. Fewer adults expect these areas to improve.
American history worsens the present. 58% of the March 27–April 2 respondents said life for those like them is worse today than 50 years ago.
Despite these negative views, most Americans are optimistic about the U.S. Over the past year, fewer Americans have expressed confidence in the country’s future.
Over the past five years, specific problem views have become increasingly negative. In the current study, Americans are around 10 percentage points more likely to expect a poor outcome for each of the four issues than they were in a 2018 Center question about 2050. 77% of Americans expect the nation to be more politically divided in 2050, up from 65% five years ago.
Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more pessimistic than Democrats and Democratic leaners on all four survey topics, although majorities in both parties are pessimistic. In 2018, Democrats predicted worse outcomes than Republicans in three of the four sectors.
White adults predict a smaller U.S. in 2050. White adults (69%), Hispanic (60%), Black (58%) and Asian (55%) individuals expect a poorer U.S. economy in 2050. The four things have small age differences.
Current conditions affect Americans’ pessimism about the nation’s future. 19% of Americans are content with the country’s direction, while 80% are dissatisfied. The economy continues to receive unfavorable ratings, and more people expect it to worsen next year.
Lower U.S. future confidence than a year ago.
Six-in-ten U.S. adults express confidence in the country’s future, including 12% who are very confident. Only 6% have no trust in the country’s future, while a third have very little.
Over the previous year, national optimism has fallen. In May 2022, 68% felt trust in the country’s future, 8 points more than today. Between August 2020 and May 2022, U.S. future optimism barely altered.
Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are more optimistic than Republicans and Republican leaners, as they have been throughout Joe Biden’s presidency. Democrats are 66% confident, while Republicans are 56%. Republicans were more optimistic than Democrats in 2020, when Trump was president.
Democrats and Republicans are less optimistic than a year ago. This has decreased 8 percentage points for Democrats and 6 percentage points for Republicans. Since April 2021, Democrats’ trust in the country’s future has decreased 18 points.
Older individuals are more optimistic about the nation’s future. Two-thirds of those 50 and older are optimistic about the U.S., compared to 56% of those 35 to 49 and 53% of those 18 to 34.
Most of this age disparity is between older and younger Democrats. 80% of Democrats 50 and older are optimistic about the future. 62% of Democrats 35–49 and 53% of 18–34 are Democrats.
Republican age groups differ less on this subject.
In both parties, those with more formal education and better incomes are more confident in the country’s future than those with less education and lower incomes.
College graduates are more confident in the nation’s future (69% vs. 56%). Three-quarters of upper-income people, 60% of middle-income adults, and 53% of lower-income individuals agree this.
Today’s Americans’ life views
Adults see the past more positively than the present, despite their pessimistic outlook for the nation. Six-in-ten (58%) feel their life in America is worse than 50 years ago. 23% believe life is better, 19% say it’s the same.
Since summer 2021, 15% more Americans feel life is worse now. Life is better has fallen by a similar margin.
Republicans and Democrats are now more likely than in 2021 to say that life is worse for individuals like them, albeit Republicans are more likely. Republicans now feel life is worse (72% vs. 59% in 2021). Democrats now say 43%, up from 30% two years ago.
White and Hispanic folks are much more likely to say life is worse for people like them than better (63% vs. 20%). Asians (48% worse, 38% better) and Blacks (41% worse, 33% better) are more divided.
Both older and younger persons are more likely to believe life is worse for people like them than better, but there is a large age gap on this topic. Adults 50 and older are 46 points more likely to say life is worse for people like them than better (65% vs. 19%). Life is 24 points worse for 18-49-year-olds (51% vs. 27%).