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Humans are always down about the economy, in three charts

Tim Fernholz
By Tim Fernholz

Senior reporter

This week, thanks to survey of people across 44 countries, the PewResearch Global Attitudes project informed us that the global public is downbeat about the economy. While this is true, and important, it turns out it isn’t surprising: People are always pretty glum, or at least as long as Pew’s been collecting data, and their outlook is actually improving, in a barely perceptible way.

The chart above is based on a polling average across 63 countries (although not every country is represented each year) and shows what a cynic might expect: Typically, most people around the world aren’t satisfied—and if they are, they probably live in China, which accounts for the highest return in the survey nearly every year, reflecting some combination of the country’s incredible recent gains and authoritarian government.

The same trends come out when we’re talking specifically about the economy:

Once again, most of the time, people are unsatisfied. Of course, the data here comes in the wake of a global economic catastrophe, so you might expect as much.

Still, there does seem to be a positive trend. That’s certainly true of people’s forecasts—expectations of economic improvement are consistently higher than assessments of the current situation:

Hope does spring eternal!

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