A majority of people in the United States believe the country will be on a downward spiral for decades, according to a new poll.

More than half, 54 percent, expect American life to go downhill until 2050, according to a recent poll by Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

That same percentage say life in America is worse today than four decades ago. Pollsters had asked people to rate the change in American life from 1972 until 2012.


The poll indicates that more of those who are pessimistic are middle-aged and older, those who earn mid-level incomes and those who identify as Protestants.

Even young people, racial and ethnic minorities, and nonreligious people, however, do not envision a better future.

Twenty-three percent think life will improve though, the poll indicates; 21 percent predict life will remain the same.

Only three in 10 who think life is better now largely credit computers and technology as the change that contributed to those improvements. Racial and ethnic minorities, the poll suggests, are more likely to point to domestic issues like civil rights. 

Although an increasing percentage of people predict the U.S. is heading down a negative path, nine out of 10 individuals rated themselves as being pretty or very happy.