No rebound in global optimism in sight

In a week when the stability of the global economy was once again called into question, with European political leaders meeting to seek a solution to the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone, GlobeScan’s tracking data shows that the public in many countries remains deeply pessimistic about the future of the planet.
For over ten years, GlobeScan has been monitoring the degree to which people around the globe feel that “the world is going in the right direction.” On average, less than one-third of those polled have endorsed this view in recent years. This year’s findings show that there has been no rebound in optimism—and indeed that confidence in the way the world is heading has taken a further knock in many of the world’s major economies.
Less than a fifth (19%) of Americans now feel that the world is going in the right direction, compared to more than half back in 2001. Only 14 per cent of Japanese feel the same way. Just one in ten in Spain, one of the countries at the eye of the Eurozone storm, and fewer than a quarter of UK respondents are optimistic about the world’s direction—a figure that has fallen continually since 2006.
Optimism is markedly higher in emerging economies such as China, where 65% think the world is headed in the right direction, and Indonesia (43%)—but in both of these countries the trend is also downwards. Only in a few developing and middle-income countries—Peru, Russia, Turkey, and Nigeria—is optimism on the increase. With concern on many global issues very high, and trust in institutions low, it may be that the public perceives a sense of drift and absence of leadership in dealing, not only with the economic crisis, but also with such problems as climate change, the spread of disease, and terrorism.
Finding from the GlobeScan Radar, Wave 2, 2011
This post was written by former GlobeScan Research Director, Sam Mountford.