As they continue to struggle with the effects of the Great Recession, publics in advanced economies are pessimistic about the financial prospects for the next generation. Most of those surveyed in richer nations think children in their country will be worse off financially than their parents. In contrast, emerging and developing nations are more optimistic that the next generation will have a higher standard of living.
Overall, optimism is linked with recent national economic performance. Countries that have enjoyed relatively high levels of growth in recent years also register some of the highest levels of confidence in their children’s economic futures.
Looking ahead, people in the emerging and developing world see better opportunities at home than abroad. Majorities or pluralities in 30 of the 34 emerging and developing nations surveyed say they would tell young people in their country to stay at home in order to lead a good life, instead of moving to another country.
A good education and hard work are most often seen as the keys to getting ahead in life. This view is especially prevalent in emerging and developing nations, where most see economic opportunity expanding. Still, many also believe success can be determined by things outside a person’s control, such as luck or having a wealthy family.
Despite the long-term optimism that exists in many countries, there are widespread concerns about inequality. Majorities in all of the 44 nations polled say the gap between rich and poor is a big problem facing their countries, and majorities in 28 nations identify this as a very big problem. More than seven-in-ten hold this view in Greece, Spain and Italy – countries that faced significant economic challenges during the last several years. But even in the emerging and developing nations that have enjoyed tremendous growth over the last couple of decades, there is a consensus that those at the top are reaping the gains while others are being left behind according to Pew.1