Most Americans are not confident that their children's lives will turn out better than their own, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NORC Poll.
The survey of 1,019 adults, conducted March 1-13, further showed that Americans are becoming more skeptical about the value of a college degree and revealed record-low numbers of people say that overall, they're not happy, reported The Wall Street Journal.
NORC, or the National Opinion Research Center, is a nonpartisan research organization at the University of Chicago, and has been asking Americans for more than 30 years if life will be better for their children's generation, and this year, 78% said they do not feel confident that will happen.
That's the highest number since the organization's General Social Survey started asking that question in 1990.
The survey also showed that white respondents were more likely to say they are not confident than were Black or Hispanic respondents.
One of the reasons people are worried the next generation will fare worse is because they are worried that a college education won't necessarily deliver economic success.
About 56% said a four-year degree won't make a difference because people are graduating without specific job skills and in significant debt, the survey showed.
However, 42% of respondents said it's worth getting a college degree, as that will mean better jobs and pay. The numbers, though, mark a reversal from when the question was last asked, in 2017, when there was a narrow plurality of people who saw college as being a worthy investment.
Only 12% of those responding to the survey said that overall, they are "very happy," marking the lowest share since NORC started asking that question every couple of years, starting in 1972, and 3 of 10 people said they are "not too happy," the highest share in the survey's records.
Much of the pessimistic outlook is because of the state of the economy, according to the survey, conducted with the nonpartisan research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, which measures social attitudes.
The results included 4 out of 5 respondents who said the state of the economy is poor or not so good, and almost half said they expect matters will only become worse over the next year.
The survey was mostly conducted before the March 10 Silicon Valley Bank collapse. About 4 in 10 people in the survey said housing and healthcare costs are major concerns, and two-thirds said inflation is a major worry.
In other findings:
- More than half said it would not be easy to find another job with comparable pay and benefits that they now receive.
- 44% said their finances are in worse condition than they expected for their current stage in life.
- More than one-third said they're not satisfied with their financial situation.
- Fewer than 3 in10 said people like them or their family have a good chance of improving their standard of living.
Jennifer Benz, vice president of public affairs and media research at NORC, said such answers strike her as being "something that's kind of an intractable level of pessimism" that wouldn't change if there are only marginal changes in the economy, like lowering gas prices.
The survey also revealed that Republicans were more likely than Democrats to have a negative view of the economy. This is typical, though, as people traditionally feel less optimistic when a president of the opposite party is in the White House.
People without college degrees and those who live in rural areas were also shown to have a more negative view of the economy, and Hispanics were shown to be more satisfied with their outlook than white or Black respondents.
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