Americans feel generally pessimistic about the future of the United States when it comes to several aspects of society, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. In particular, 63% of Americans are pessimistic about the country’s moral and ethical standards, and 59% are pessimistic about its education system.
Pew Research Center conducted this analysis to better understand Americans’ outlook on the United States’ future with regard to various aspects of society.
This analysis is based on a survey of 5,073 U.S. adults conducted April 10-16, 2023. Everyone who took part is a member of the Center’s American Trends Panel (ATP), an online survey panel that is recruited through national, random sampling of residential addresses. Address-based sampling ensures that nearly all U.S. adults have a chance of selection. The survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, partisan affiliation, education and other categories. Read more about the ATP’s methodology.
Smaller shares are pessimistic about other aspects of the country’s future. Still, more Americans feel pessimistic than optimistic about:
- The United States’ ability to ensure racial equality for all people, regardless of race or ethnicity (44% are pessimistic, compared with 28% who are optimistic)
- The country’s ability to get along with other countries (41% vs. 30%)
- The institution of marriage and the family in the country (40% vs. 25%)
Views on these items differ considerably by party and, in some cases, by race and ethnicity and by age.
By double-digit margins, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are more likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say they are pessimistic about:
- The institution of marriage and the family in the country (56% of Republicans are pessimistic, compared with 25% of Democrats)
- The United States’ moral and ethical standards (75% vs. 54%)
- The country’s education system (67% vs. 53%)
- The country’s ability to get along with other countries (48% vs. 35%)
The only topic Democrats are more pessimistic about than Republicans is racial equality. More than half of Democrats (54%) are pessimistic about the United States’ ability to ensure racial equality for all people. In contrast, 34% of Republicans are pessimistic about this and 33% are optimistic.
Views about moral and ethical standards and about the institution of marriage and the family also differ by age. Adults ages 65 and older are more pessimistic than younger age groups in both areas.
Across racial and ethnic groups, White adults are the most pessimistic group when it comes to:
- The United States’ moral and ethical standards: 71% of White adults feel pessimistic about this, compared with 55% of Asian, 50% of Black and 50% of Hispanic adults.
- The country’s system of education: 64% of White adults feel pessimistic, compared with 50% of Hispanic, 48% of Asian and 45% of Black adults.
- The country’s ability to get along with other countries: 45% of White adults feel pessimistic, compared with 36% of Hispanic adults and 34% each among Black and Asian adults.
A different pattern emerges when it comes to the country’s ability to ensure racial equality in the future. About half of Black (51%) and Asian (49%) adults say they feel pessimistic about this, while less than half of Hispanic (44%) and White (43%) adults say the same.