Greece is the most pessimistic country in the world, followed by Syria and the Czech Republic, then Portugal, according to a new Gallup poll.
More than 4 in 10 Greeks surveyed in 2011 said they expected their lives to be worse in 5 years than today.
“Greeks’ pessimism likely reflects the political and economic uncertainty they have been living with for the past several years,” said Anna Manchin, European director for Gallup in a statement, noting that Greeks had gone 222 days without a government until June.
“This lack of optimism is potentially an even more serious concern than current low life evaluations, as pessimism and hopelessness can have serious implications for social stability,” says Manchin.
The leader of Greece’s far-left party, the second biggest party in Parliament, recently said he expects the country will default and could exit the eurozone and revert to the old Greek currency, the drachma. And this week, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras told former U.S. President Bill Clinton that Greece was currently suffering its own version of the Great Depression.
Syria and the Czech Republic tied as second most pessimistic with 33 percent in each country expecting a gloomy future. Given the violence and turmoil in Syria since March 2011, the response isn’t surprising. For the Czechs, however, there is no specific event that explains the grim outlook.
Jiri Danko, a 25-year-old Czech assembly worker, named several reasons why Czechs have such negative views of their future.
“We Czechs simply have a small country, historically depending on neighboring powers. That pessimism is also an after-effect of 40 years of communism,” he said.
“The resigned atmosphere from living under the former regime is still here and people are not interested in politics, since they believe that other countries we depend on have the main say,” Danko added.
Danko also described the Czech culture as a contributing factor. “Writers and movie makers produce a lot of ‘tragicomedies’, which is a Czech specialty. People in foreign countries often wonder why we’re even laughing at very sad movies.”
His younger brother Miroslav, a 23-year-old student, said, “We’re pessimistic because we’re atheists.”
On the other side of the spectrum, over 90 percent of residents in several sub-Saharan African countries, such as Madagascar, Guinea, and the Central African Republic, were hopeful of a better future.
Manchin says in Gallup’s press release this could be because these people “cannot fathom their lives getting worse.”
Results were collected in face-to-face or telephone interviews with around 1,000 adults in each of the 148 countries and areas surveyed. People were asked to rate their current lives and life in 5 years on a scale from 0 to 10. Nations are labeled as “thriving” if both their current and future lives are rated highly.
Gallup labels people as optimistic if they rate their future lives higher than their present and as pessimistic if present is higher than future. This also means anyone who rates the present and future as a 10, cannot be considered optimistic.
Additional reporting by Peter Sedik in Czech Republic.
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