Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

The Mediterranean: Go for the beaches, not the mood

Credit: Stuart Black

The Mediterranean is a sea of misery, according to the Pew Research Center’s recent report on global economic trends.

Nations ringing the Mediterranean consistently rank at or near the top of multiple measures of pessimism in the 39-country survey. And, in what should surprise exactly no one, Greece has by far the bleakest outlook, topping no fewer than five of the six metrics we examined.

Greeks were nearly unanimous in calling their country’s economic situation very or somewhat bad (99%) and in saying they were dissatisfied with the way things are going there (97%). They overwhelmingly agreed that their personal finances were in bad shape (85%); more than half said they expected both the national economy and their personal finances to worsen over the next 12 months (64% and 54%, respectively).

The only category, in fact, where Greece was toppled off its pessimistic perch was in their expectations for their children’s future. The winner there was France, where a stunning 90% said they expected the next generation to be worse off than their parents. (Greece, at 67%, came in at #5, behind Japan, Britain and Italy.)

The accompanying chart depicts just how far on the ledge of unhappiness these five Mediterranean countries are (along with the median for all 39 nations surveyed). Each vertex represents one of six questions we asked; the points represent the percentage of respondents giving a negative or pessimistic response.

Beyond the five shown in the chart, three other nations with Mediterranean coastlines also expressed high levels of pessimism on all or most questions: Egypt, Tunisia and the Palestinian territories. (To be fair, two other Mediterranean countries surveyed, Israel and Turkey, were somewhat more optimistic than their neighbors.)

The countries in which the highest percentages of people expressed optimism don’t fall into such a neat geographic pattern, many being scattered among east Asia and the Pacific Rim (China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia), Latin America (Brazil, Chile and Bolivia) and sub-Saharan Africa (Kenya). Most of these countries have experienced rapid growth and rising living standards and anticipate more of the same in the future.