Are You Optimistic About the Future?

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Are You Optimistic About the Future?

Will today’s children be better off financially than their parents?

What do you think is the most important factor in determining success?

Do you think the world is becoming better?

What is the best part of being a young person today?

These are just a few of the questions asked in a new global survey of 15- to 24-year-olds. How would you answer them? On the whole, how optimistic are you about the world and the future?

In “Where Are Young People Most Optimistic? In Poorer Nations.,” Claire Cain Miller and Alicia Parlapiano write:

Will the next generation do better than the one that came before? To young people in wealthier nations, that dream of upward mobility seems more like a story about the past than modern-day reality, according to a large new survey taken in 21 countries.

In poorer countries, though, there is still hope that young people’s lives will be better than those of their parents, and that the world is becoming a better place.

“In a lot of the developing world, there is a bit more optimism that yes, with each generation our living standards are improving,” said Laurence Chandy, director of the office of global insight and policy at UNICEF, which conducted the survey with Gallup. “But there’s a recognition in the West that’s stopped happening.”

In the United States, 56 percent of young people and 64 percent of older people said that children today would be worse off, economically, than their parents — a view that comports with the economic realities for many in recent years.

The survey was of 21,000 people in two age groups — 15 to 24, and 40 and up — and included nationally representative samples from all regions of the world. The younger group said that children today were better off in basic ways, like education, health care and physical safety. In the median country, 57 percent of them said the world was becoming a better place with each generation, compared with 39 percent of older people.

The article features many quotes from follow-up interviews with young respondents from around the world. Here is a sampling:

The best part of being a teenager now is I don’t have to work as much, I have more freedom, and we’re online.

— Landen Otaka, 16, Hawaii

Luck and family wealth have a great influence on a person’s success, even greater than hard work and education. However, they go hand in hand.

— Victor Paganotto Carvalho Freitas, 24, Brazil

The worst part of being a young person is social media. People believe that their lifestyle is not fulfilling compared to the celebrities and influencers they follow.

— Lorraine Nduta, 21, Kenya

The state of the world right now is very upsetting. Humanity is certainly doing something wrong.

— Valeriia Drabych, 19, Ukraine

I am very optimistic about where the world is headed. The number of wars in the world has decreased, and science has advanced a lot.

— Md. Rafaiat Ullah, 24, Bangladesh

Students, read the entire article and look at the images and graphs, then tell us:

  • Are you optimistic about the future? What gives you hope? What makes you fearful or worried?

  • How would you answer two central questions in the global survey: Do you think children in your country will be economically better or worse off than their parents when they are older? Do you think the world is becoming better? Why or why not? Tell us your views.

  • What is your reaction to the survey’s results? What did you find most illuminating, provocative or inspiring? Are you surprised that young people in poorer nations are more optimistic about their futures?

  • Valeriia Drabych, 19, from Ukraine said: “The state of the world right now is very upsetting. Humanity is certainly doing something wrong.” While Md. Rafaiat Ullah, 24, from Bangladesh said: “I am very optimistic about where the world is headed. The number of wars in the world has decreased, and science has advanced a lot.” Which quote from a young respondent in this article resonates most with your own experiences and views on the state of the world and the future?

  • Do you feel any more or less hopeful about the future after reading this article? Why or why not?

  • What question would you like to ask teenagers around the world? Why?