Wednesday, January 09, 2013

When Bad News is Good News

Although the Great Recession was in full steam in 2008, Americans of all ages were optimistic. Fully 66 percent believed today's youth would have a better life than their parents, according to Gallup. In 2010, despite the lingering effects of the economic downturn, 62 percent of the public still felt that way. Now, however, the mood has darkened. Only 49 percent of Americans believe today's youth will be better off than their parents.

Behind the nation's funk is the growing pessimism of older generations. Among people aged 35 to 54, the percentage who believe today's youth will be better off than their parents has fallen 17 percentage points during the past four years--from 65 percent in 2008 to 48 percent in 2012. Among people aged 55 or older, the figure fell from 63 to 45 percent during those years. In contrast, among Americans aged 18 to 34, the 57 percent majority remains upbeat. While this figure is down from 69 percent in 2008, the decline among young adults has been much more modest than for their parents and grandparents.

Could the growing pessimism of older generations be good news, however? Is it a measure of the frustration and helplessness felt by older generations in the face of historic technological and social change? Does it mean the status quo is crumbling, industrial-age thinking is disappearing, and politics and policies are being transformed by the Internet Age? Let's hope so.

Source: Gallup, Americans Divided on Outlook for Next Generation

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