Canadians More Optimistic than Most in the World, but Half (53%) Think the Next Generation Will Have It Worse

Four in Ten (39%) Say Canada Needs to Economically Protect Itself from the Rest of the World, Higher Than Global Average (31%), and Second Only to the U.S. (47%)

Toronto, ON - Canadians are among the most optimistic people in the world when it comes to assessing the state of our country, according to a new Ipsos global survey provided to Global News.

While four in ten Canadians (38%) agree (13% strongly/25% tend to) that Canada `is in decline', the average level of agreement among the 22 countries surveyed is that 57% believe their own country is in decline. Canada is second to last on the list (just before India at 22%) in terms of sharing this negative view. South Africans (77%) are most likely to believe their country is in decline, while six in ten Americans (60%) feel the same about the United States.

Three in ten (31%) disagree (11% strongly/20% tend to) that Canada is in decline, one in four (26%) are neutral (neither agree nor disagree), and 5% don't know.

Those who feel Canada is in decline tend to be optimistic about our chances for recovery, with six in ten (60%) saying Canada can recover from its perceived state of decline - although this is below the global average at 67% - while one in ten (14%) think the decline is irreversible, on par with the global average of 15%. A further one in four Canadians (26%) don't know. Residents of Japan are most pessimistic about their ability to bounce back, with one in three (34%) saying their country's decline is irreversible.

The survey reveals that while in the global context Canadians are more optimistic about the current state of their own country than those living in other countries, many Canadians are pessimistic about the prospects of current and future generations compared to the ones that have gone before. Nearly half (46%) feel that their generation will have had a worse life (17% much/30% slightly) than their parents' generation, in line with the global average of 43%. That leaves two in ten (17%) who think their generation's life will be about the same as their parents' generation (compared to global average of 20%), while three in ten (31%) think their lives will be better (9% much/22% slightly), compared to global average of 32%.

Looking ahead, this pessimism tips into majority territory, with more than half (53%) saying today's youth will have had a worse life (21% much/33% slightly) than their parents' generation, ahead of the 48% global average. Two in ten (19%) think it will be about the same, on par with a global average of 20%, while another two in ten (22%) think it will be better (5% much/17% slightly), compared to an average of 27% globally. A further 6% aren't sure (6% are also unsure at the global level).

Globalization and Protectionism

While Canadians might like to think of themselves as global citizens, the survey has uncovered that we are actually more protectionist than most in terms of our openness to the rest of the world. Asked whether we should do more to open up or protect itself, four in ten Canadians (39%) agree most (13% much more/26% more) that `Canada needs to take more steps to protect itself from today's world' - eight points ahead of the 31% global average. The United States (47%) is the only country that feels more strongly that they should take more steps to protect themselves.

One in four (25%) Canadians take a more open view, agreeing (7% much more/18% more) that Canada `needs to take more steps to open itself up to today's world. This compares to more than one in three (36%) respondents at the global level who feel the same way about their country.

One in four Canadians (25%) agrees with both viewpoints equally, while 11% don't know.

Those most inclined to favour opening up include Peru (62%), Mexico (56%) and Argentina (47%). In the U.S., one in four (25%) think the country should take more steps to open up to the world.


Overall, however, Canadians' attitude to globalization tends to mirror that of the broader world, in that more of us choose to see opportunity rather than threat. Nearly four in ten Canadians (37%) agree most (11% much more/26% more) that opening up the country's economy to foreign businesses and foreign trade is an opportunity for Canada, just five points behind the global average of 42%. Peru (55%), South Africa (54%) and Great Britain (54%) are the most likely to view globalization as an opportunity for their country, while 39% of Americans feel the same way about opening up the U.S. economy to foreign business and trade.

Conversely, one in four (26%) Canadians feel (7% much more/19% more) that opening up the economy in this way is a threat to Canada, on par with the 26% seen globally. Two in ten (21%) see both opportunity and threat in opening up the economy to global trade, while 16% aren't sure. Italy (38%), Argentina (34%) and France (33%) are most likely to see globalization as a threat to their country, while the U.S. is not far behind at 29%.

Is the System Broken?

In the wake of a tumultuous year on the world stage, questions about political leadership and how well the system works are dominating the public discussion in many countries. The survey finds that in Canada, a majority feel disconnected from our political leaders, parties and experts, though fewer seem to favour having a rule-breaker in the PM's office:

  • 65% agree (35% strongly/30% somewhat) `Canada needs a strong leader to take the country back from the rich and powerful', vs. a global average of 63%.
    • Three that most agree (about their own country): Mexico (81%), Peru (74%), Hungary (72%).
    • Three that least agree: Sweden (31%), Germany (34%), Japan (45%).
    • United States: 69% agree.
  • 59% agree (27% strongly/31% somewhat) `the Canadian economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful', vs. 69% globally;
    • Three that most agree: Hungary (83%), Mexico (82%), Israel (80%).
    • Three that least agree: Sweden (39%), Japan (55%), Canada (59%).
    • United States: 69% agree.
  • 58% agree (26% strongly/32% somewhat) `experts in this country don't understand the lives of people like me', vs. 60% globally;
    • Three that most agree: Spain (74%), France (73%), Mexico (72%).
    • Three that least agree: Sweden (38%), Japan (45%), Germany (46%).
    • United States: 64% agree.
  • 57% agree (25% strongly/32% somewhat) `politicians should be able to say what's on their minds regardless of what anyone else thinks about their views', vs. a 64% global average;
    • Three that most agree: Argentina (79%), Hungary (79%), Israel (79%).
    • Three that least agree: Japan (47%), South Africa (49%), Brazil (51%)
    • United States: 60% agree.
  • 56% agree (26% strongly/31% somewhat) `traditional parties and politicians don't care about people like me', vs. a global average of 64%;
    • Three that most agree: Mexico (78%), Peru (77%), France (76%).
    • Three that least agree: Japan (39%), Sweden (42%), Germany (53%).
    • United States: 66% agree.
  • 41% agree (19% strongly/22% somewhat) that `to fix Canada, we need a strong leader willing to break the rules', vs. 49% globally.
    • Three that most agree: France (80%), Israel (69%), Italy (68%).
    • Three that least agree: Germany (21%), Sweden (23%), Spain (35%).
    • United States: 40% agree.

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos Global @dvisor poll conducted between October 21 and November 4, 2016. For this survey, a sample of 16,096 interviews were conducted among adults aged 18-64 in the US and Canada, and adults aged 16-64 in all other countries. The survey was conducted in 22 countries around the world via the Ipsos Online Panel system. The countries reporting herein are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States of America. Between 500 and 1000+ individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel. The sample was 1000+ in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Spain and the United Stated of America. In all other countries the sample was 500+. The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 5.0 percentage points. For more information on Ipsos' use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website. Where results do not sum to 100, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses or the exclusion of don't knows or not stated responses. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Sean Simpson
Vice President
(416) 324-2002
Ipsos Public Affairs
[email protected]

About Ipsos

Ipsos ranks third in the global research industry. With a strong presence in 87 countries, Ipsos employs more than 16,000 people and has the ability to conduct research programs in more than 100 countries. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is controlled and managed by research professionals. They have built a solid Group around a multi-specialist positioning-- Media and advertising research; Marketing research; Client and employee relationship management; Opinion & social research; Mobile, Online, Offline data collection and delivery. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999.

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