Pew: When Americans Peer 30 years Into The Future, They See A Country In Decline

DystopiaTeresa Prater / CC-BY / 2.0

“When Americans peer 30 years into the future, they see a country in decline" (via Pew Social Trends).

When Americans look 30 years into their futures, they see a country in decline. Although 56% of the public say they are somewhat optimistic about the future, when they focus on specific issues they are less optimistic, according to Pew.

The majority of Americans think that in 2050, the country will be in huge debt with a wider gap between the rich and the poor. They think the economy will be weaker, healthcare less affordable, and the environment in worse condition. They also predict that a terrorist attack as bad or worse than 9/11 will occur in the next 30 years.

Nearly nine in ten people think that a woman will be elected as president and roughly 65 percent of people say the same about a Hispanic person. More than half of the people expect that Alzheimer’s disease will be cured by 2050.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicted that by 2050, minorities such as Asians, Hispanics, and blacks will be the majority of the population. Four in ten Americans say this shift will be neither a food thing nor a bad thing for the country. 35 percent of people think a majority-minority population will be good, and 23 percent say it will be bad. These views differ by race and ethnicity.

More, by 2050, people aged 65 and up will likely outnumber those younger than 18. 56 percent of adults think this will be bad for the country.

The majority of Americans are unsure if the federal government are up to meet these future challenges. Over 80 percent of people are worried about the way the government works. A similar percentage of people are worried about the ability of political leaders to solve the biggest problems in the nation.

Americans look to science, technology, and education to solve future problems. 87 percent think science and technology will have a very or somewhat positive impact in solving the nation’s issues.

Across issues, partisan differences are extremely large. Although both Democrats and Republicans fear for the future, about 66 percent of Democrats and those who lean Democratic, but only 36 percent of Republicans and those that lean Republican, say increased spending on education is a top federal government priority. About 58 percent of Democrats but only 19 percent of Republicans say the media will have a positive impact on solving the country’s problems. About 42 percent of Democrats say a population with a majority of nonwhite people will strengthen American customs and values. Only 13 percent of Americans feel the same way.

Partisan differences are notably large on environmental issues. About 61 percent of Democrats and only 15 percent of Republicans say they’re very worried about climate change. 70 percent of Democrats think the condition of the environment will worsen in the next 30 years, while 43 percent of Republicans concur.

The top three Republican priorities for the future- reducing the number of undocumented immigrants, cutting the national debt, and avoiding increases in taxes- are not even on the top five of Democratic priorities.

The two parties do agree on one thing. Majorities from both parties agree that the country will be more politically divided in 2050 than today.

The other key findings from the Pew Research Center are that the majority of Americans predict that older adults will have a tougher time financially in 2050; few Americans think there will be a better standard of living in 2050; and a large majority thinks that health care for all would be beneficial for future generations. The poll also found that minorities are more optimistic than white people about the future of the country and most Americans worry about the moral values of the U.S., while half of people say religion will decline in importance. Finally, older adults with less education were found to be more negative about the impact of automation.

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