December - 2008
Gallup International’s Voice of the PeopleTM End of the Year Survey interviewed 45,700 people and found the year to come is expected with more pessimism (35%) than optimism (27%). The survey was conducted between October and December – once the global financial crisis had exploded - and asked people in 46 countries of different continents “So far as you are concerned, do you think that 2009 will be better, or worse than 2008?”.
The poll also discovered the majority of global citizens describe 2009 as a year of economic difficulty (52%), dominated by unemployment (66%) and with more (36%) or the same level of international disputes as in 2008 (45%).
The financial crisis in world markets evidently impacts on these answers, resulting in a decline of optimism for the year to come to 27% looking forward to 2009 from 38% for 2008. Looking specifically at the economic front, the majority of those interviewed forecast economic difficulties (52%) and even higher proportions an increase in unemployment (66%). These negative expectations are more pessimistic than those of last year when 31% expected economic difficulties and 43% an increase in unemployment.
Looking to the results for individual countries, the list of top ten optimistic countries shows places from very different regions of the world. Kosovo is number 1, with 60% of the people saying 2009 will be better than 2008. Kosovars have been among the most optimistic citizens since the beginning of the new century. In the second place are China’s main cities (53%). Then the ranking shows countries such as Australia (49%) and its neighbour New Zealand (44%), Lebanon (48%) and Colombia (48%). Then, the other two BRIC countries included in the survey: Russia and India (both 42%). Bahrain (41%) and Macedonia (40%) are also countries within the top ten.
US is 11th in the top optimistic list (38%). It is worth noticing that the survey took place just days before the elections when, even though the financial crisis in the country was deteriorating, US citizens where looking forward to a new Presidency and renewed hope and expectations.
It should be noted that last year, top optimistic countries held higher proportions of optimism where at least half the population of all countries in the list expected the year to come to be better. Kosovo is not an exception – last year 68% of Kosovars expected the year to be better, whereby this year the proportion of optimists in Kosovo dropped to 60%. In this new survey, countries like Russia, Gallup International Association, registered in Zurich, Switzerland. Voice of the PeopleTM End of Year Survey 2008 Press Release India, Bahrain and Macedonia have room in the top ten optimists list with a proportion of optimistic interviewees of four out of ten.
2009 will be better than 2008
Looking at the other end of the optimism/pessimism scale, the top ten pessimists are all countries with more than half of the interviewees expecting the year to come to be worse than 2008.
It is interesting to note that last year pessimism was not so high and in only one country (Senegal) pessimists were above 50%. Another surprising result of this Top Pessimists table is that it is headed by last year most optimistic country – Hong Kong (67%). Also, its Asian neighbour, Singapore (63%), shares this gloom. Iceland’s (67%) financial crisis has put it as the second most pessimistic country in the world about prospects for 2009. As so often, Greece (60%) is once again one of the most pessimistic countries in the world although the survey was taken before the current crisis. This year fellow European pessimists also include Ireland (61%), UK (52%), Netherland (52%), Croatia (56%), Serbia (53%) and Ukraine (52%).
2009 will be worse than 2008
In most of the 46 countries included in the survey we find a higher pessimism than last year with the most dramatic example being Hong Kong which changed drastically from top optimist at the end of 2007 to top pessimist at the end of this year. Interestingly, Lebanon and Indonesia are among the Gallup International Association, registered in Zurich, Switzerland. Voice of the PeopleTM End of Year Survey 2008 Press Release exceptions, showing a growth in optimism compared to last year (14 and 10 points) in a context where for most countries the trend is the opposite.
Repeatedly surveys have shown that the public’s economic expectations have a major impact on general expectations for the coming year. So, this year, Gallup International finds citizens expect 2009 with significantly more economic concerns than the previous year, (31% expected economic difficulties for 2008 against 52% for 2009). Only one in ten (13%) think 2009 will be a year of economic prosperity, whilst the majority of the world citizens’ interviewed (52%) feels it will be a year of economic difficulty. However, Kosovo being the most optimistic in overall, half of its citizens (48%) believe that 2009 will be a year of economic prosperity.
Fears that unemployment will increase have a major effect on whether people feel optimistic about economic prospects or not. Globally, a significant majority (66%) expect the number of unemployed in their country to increase either a lot or a little, whilst only 14% feel unemployment will decrease.
In all countries included in the survey the proportion of those citizens with expectations of an increase in unemployment is higher than those hoping for improvement. These fears are at their highest in European countries - Iceland, Denmark, Luxembourg and UK, where nine in ten expect unemployment rates to increase a lot or slightly, whilst in Hong Kong, Norway, Belgium, Austria, Greece, Ireland, Russia, China, Singapore, Netherland, Switzerland and Philippines around eight in ten expect unemployment to increase. In Kosovo, with an unemployment rate of around 45%, four in ten still expect the number of unemployed to increase either a lot or slightly.
Finally, respondents were asked about prospects for international peace – whether they thought 2009 would be a peaceful year more or less free of international dispute, a troubled year with much international discord or remain the same as the outgoing year.
Expectations regarding this issue have not changed when compared to last year: almost four out of ten of those interviewed globally (36%) feel 2009 will be a troubled year, with much international discord; whilst only just one in ten mention it will be a peaceful year (11%), the remaining 45% considering things will stay much as they were in 2008.
In Pakistan almost half (48%) fear international tensions will worsen, this proportion is similar to that found in 2007 (46%) and significantly more than results collected at the end of 2006 (33%). In Kosovo, only 14% fear that international tensions will worsen.
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