Israelis expect good financial future for their kids, poll shows

The Pew Research Center’s annual poll of economic conditions in 40 countries shows Israel as an advanced – and optimistic – society

Illustrative: Students attend a lecture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Illustrative: Students attend a lecture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Israelis may not be enamored of the country’s economy right now, but hope springs eternal, a study by the Pew Research Center released last week showed.

The poll, which measured perception of the performance of the economy in dozens of countries, showed that 51% of Israelis believed that their children will be financially better off than they are – the highest percentage of any country in the developed world, and nearly twice the average in Western Europe and North America.

Forty countries were included in the survey, and in Israel, the poll recorded responses from a representative sample of 1,000 Israelis from various ages, ethnic, social, and religious groups. Israel was classified as an advanced country, as were most of Western Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia. Also included in the survey were “emerging” countries such as China, Vietnam, and India, as well as “developing” countries, mostly in Africa. Attitudes in the Palestinian Authority were also measured, with the PA placed in the latter category.

Forty-nine percent of Israelis said that their economy was “good,” compared to 50% who said that economic conditions were “bad” (those terms were not specifically defined; the idea was to see what respondents thought of their country’s economic prospects). In 2014, 59% of Israelis thought the economy was doing well.

Among advanced countries, only in Germany did a large number of people – 75% of those polled – say their economy was doing well, followed by Canada, where 57% said that as well. In the US, only 40% said the economy was doing well. Attitudes were much more optimistic in the emerging and developing countries; in China, 90% of respondents said that the economy was doing well, as did 86% of Vietnamese and 74% of Indian respondents. In developing Ethiopia, 89% said the economy was doing well. And in the PA, 31% saw the economy as positive.

With that, Israelis are optimistic for better prospects in the coming 12 months. With 47% of respondents seeing economic improvement in the coming year, Israelis emerged as the most optimistic in the developed world. Thirty-six percent of Israelis expect things to remain the same, while 15% expected a worsening. In the US, 34% saw improvement coming a year from now; 39% saw no change in the offing, but a quarter expected things to get worse. In the PA, 30% expected improvement, while 39% expected things to worsen.

But it’s for their children that Israelis have the most hope. More than half – 51% – expected economic conditions to be better for the next generation than they are now, a higher percentage than in any advanced country. In the US, only 32% felt that the next generation would be better off, while the least optimistic were respondents in Japan (18%), Italy (15%), and France (14%).

Israeli optimism, however, was no match for the positive view residents of the developing and emerging countries. Vietnamese, Chinese, Nigerians, Indians, Chileans, Ethiopians, Senegalese, and residents of Burkina Faso are all very optimistic about the future, with at least two thirds in each of those countries expecting their children to do better than they.

Least optimistic in the developing world were Palestinians – but they were more optimistic than Lebanese, Malaysians, and Jordanians, and just slightly less optimistic than Poles and Venezuelans.

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