Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Americans Are Optimistic, But Less So Than A Decade Ago

While Americans are largely optimistic about the future, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center For The People and The Press, they are much less optimistic than just a decade ago.

The poll also shows a sharp dip in overall optimism from 1999, when 81 per cent said they were optimistic about life for themselves and their families. At the same time, the proportion optimistic about the nation’s future slipped from 70 percent in 1999 to 61 percent now, and those expecting a stronger economy fell from 64 percent to 56 percent.

Americans are also braced for a major energy crisis and a warming planet, according to the survey. More than half, or 58 per cent, fear another world war in the next 40 years and 53 per cent expect a terrorist attack against the United States using a nuclear weapon.

The poll might have found surprising results when it asked what amount of immigration would be needed to keep the country’s economy strong: Some 34 percent said less, but 36 percent thought the current level of immigration was fine and 26 percent called for more new arrivals. The question did specify legal immigration.

But, Americans see quite a lot to look forward to when asked about the next 40 years. By mid century, 71 per cent believe cancer will be cured, 66 per cent say artificial limbs will work better than real ones, 81 per cent believe computers will be able to converse like humans and more than 40 per cent believe Jesus Christ will return to Earth by 2050, according to a poll.

Here are some other findings of the poll:
  • 71 per cent believe cancer will be cured by 2050.
  • 81 per cent believe computers will be able to converse like humans.
  • 68 per cent of those under 30 predict a world war by 2050.
  • 53 per cent say ordinary people will travel in space
  • Nearly three-quarters, or 74 per cent, of those polled believe it likely that "most of our energy will come from sources other than coal, oil, and gas".
  • Yet 72 per cent believe the world is likely to experience a major worldwide energy crisis by 2050.
  • 66 per cent say the Earth will definitely or probably get warmer but it breaks down strongly along political lines, with just 48 per cent of Republicans saying so and 83 per cent of Democrats.
  • 42 per cent say it is likely that scientists will be able to tell what people are thinking by scanning their brains but 55 say this will definitely or probably not happen.
  • 89 per cent believe a woman will be elected US president by 2050.
  • 86 per cent say it is at least probable that most Americans will have to work into their 70s before retiring.
  • 41 per cent say Jesus Christ will return within the next 40 years while 46 per cent say this will definitely or probably not happen.
  • 63 per cent anticipate the demise of paper money
  • 61 per cent say almost no one will send letters by 2050.
  • 31 per cent expect the planet will be struck by an asteroid
  • Just half expect health care to be more affordable, and
  • 49 percent anticipate improvement in public schools
The poll was conducted by telephone, with 1,546 adults polled from April 21-26. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points, according to Pew.

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