Just under half (49%) of the respondents in a Pew Research Center survey rate the quality of the life they expect to be leading five years from now higher than their current quality of life — as recently as 2002, more than six-in-ten (61%) Americans said their future would be better than their present. The survey also finds that a quarter of adults rate their life five years from now the same as they rate their current life, while just 12% rate the future worse (the remaining 14% say they aren’t sure). Thus, looking at only the “worse” and “better” ratings, Americans continue to tilt heavily positive — by a ratio of four-to-one — in their outlook about the future. Even so, the downturn in personal optimism since 2002 is the sharpest recorded in the more than 40 years that both Pew and the Gallup organization have been conducting this “ladder of life” survey. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.