Most Americans don’t think their children’s lives will be better: survey

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A large majority of Americans do not believe that their children’s lives will be better than theirs, according to a new poll from The Wall Street Journal and the University of Chicago.

Most adults polled — 78 percent — said their children’s generation will have it worse off, compared to 42 percent holding that view in 2001. The findings point to increasing economic pessimism in the country.

The poll surveyed about 1,000 Americans in early March.

About 4 in 10 respondents said health care costs are the largest economic concern, with two-thirds also identifying inflation as a major worry.

“No matter how much they increase your pay, everything else is going up,” Kristy Morrow, a hospital coordinator in Texas, told The Wall Street Journal. “I do fear that for the kids.”

More than half of survey respondents said it would be difficult to find a job, the highest mark since 2010. Similarly, about 80 percent of respondents described the U.S. economy as “poor” or “not good.”

Inflation remains high — at about 5.5 percent in February — but is slowly receding, and record-low unemployment since the pandemic has largely remained steady. However, regularly rising interest rates from the Federal Reserve and a mixed stock market have caused concern for some Americans that a recession is on the horizon.

Almost half of respondents said that they expected to be in a better financial position than they are now at this point in their lives, and fewer than 3 in 10 expect their standard of living to substantially improve.

“That strikes me as something that’s kind of an intractable level of pessimism,” said Jennifer Benz, vice president of public affairs and media research at NORC, the University of Chicago’s research arm.

But there was a partisan divide in the results.

Republicans viewed the economy less positively than Democrats, which follows the expected trend of opposition party negativity, survey organizers said. People living in rural areas and those without college degrees also viewed the economy more negatively.

The poll is part of the NORC annual social survey, which has been distributed since 1973. 

The newest poll found the lowest number of respondents describing themselves as “very happy” — 12 percent. Similarly, the number of respondents describing themselves as “not too happy,” climbed to an all-time high of 30 percent.

Tags economic outlook inflation Wall Street Journal

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