New York, NY, December 19, 2022 — Following a very challenging couple of years in 2020 and 2021, many people around the world feel 2022 has been a little better. Two in three Americans (64%) are hopeful that 2023 will be a better year than 2022. However, there is some lingering concerns about a wide array of issues, stretching from rising prices to unemployment to natural disasters.
How was it for you? 2022 in retrospect
In what is now a decade-old annual tradition, Ipsos recently asked more than 24,000 citizens of 36 countries to reflect on the year gone by and the year ahead.
As 2022 was marked by COVID-19, international conflict, economic woes, and an increasingly urgent climate emergency, many agree it has been a challenging year. As usual, there is a marked difference between how people feel the year coming to an end has treated them and their family and how it has impacted their country as a whole. Over half both in the United States (51%) and on average across all 36 countries (56%) describe 2022 as a bad year for themselves and their family. Even more (81% in the U.S. and 73% on average globally) say it has been a bad year for their country. And yet, these figures suggest a degree of improvement on the global level as both are better than the corresponding figures for 2021 (which were 58% for “me and my family” and 77% for “my country”). However, in the U.S., these numbers are flat over time (50% and 80% respectively). In other words, Americans found 2022 to be just as bad as 2021.
These global figures mask a world in very different places emotionally:
- In 15 of the 36 markets covered, more than 80% feel 2022 has been a bad year for their country, peaking in Great Britain and Hungary (both 87%). In only four of the markets (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, both at 44%, and in China and Switzerland, both at 48%) do less than half of those surveyed feel 2022 has been a bad year.
- Yet on balance, the trend tends to be positive. The percentage of those describing 2022 as a bad year for their country is lower than the percentage of those who had said the same about 2021 by an average of 4 percentage points globally. It is lower by 10 points or more in eight of the 26 countries – most so in Singapore (23 points lower), India (16 points lower), and Malaysia (14 points lower). However, the reverse is seen in Poland (10 points higher), Sweden (12 points higher), and Denmark (13 points higher).
Looking towards 2023
At a global level, signs of improvement are not apparent in all areas of life, however. About half of the 17 questions where we have trend data since 2021, particularly those focused on what 2023 will be like, show a significantly more pessimistic view of what next year will bring. Much of this negativity surrounds the economic situation, but it extends beyond the economy to encompass climate-related disasters, the use of nuclear weapons, and even asteroid impacts and visits from aliens.
The economy in 2023
Overall, there is much more pessimism about the global economy than at this time last year. Only 46% on average across all 36 countries believe that the global economy will be stronger next year, compared to 61% who did so last year and 54% in 2020. People in Belgium are the most pessimistic about the economy with as few as 27% expecting to see improvements, while those in China and the UAE, where 78% and 76% respectively anticipate better times, are the most optimistic. In the U.S., about two in five (42%) expect the global economy to be stronger in the new year, down from 54% saying the same at this time last year.
The reasons for this pessimism are clear. Large majorities globally expect increases in the cost of living (79% expect prices to rise, 75% expect to see higher inflation rates), levels of unemployment (68%), and interest rates (74%). Proportions of Americans with the same expectations are in line with the global averages.
Even more worryingly, nearly half globally (46%) think it likely that their country will need to be bailed out with emergency funding from the International Monetary Fund, with those in South Africa (78%) and Argentina (70%) being particularly worried about this possibility.
Around half both globally (50%) and in the U.S. (47%) think it is likely that major stock markets around the world will crash – significantly more than did a year ago (+15 points globally, +10 in the U.S.
World security in 2023
World security has been very much on everyone’s minds in 2022 with active conflict zones in several parts of the world and international tensions rising in others.
The possible escalation of such conflicts has increased concern that nuclear weapons will be used somewhere in the world. More than two in five globally (48%, up 14 points from last year) and among Americans (42%, up 13 points) now feel that the use of nuclear weapons in a conflict is likely, up. Nervousness is particularly high in Indonesia (69%) as well as Peru and Colombia (both 62%).
The role of technology in potential disruption is also recognized. More than four in 10 (44% globally and 46% in the U.S.) say it is likely hackers from a foreign government will cause a global IT shutdown. Fewer Americans (25%) think a rogue artificial intelligence program could cause significant damage in the U.S., up five points since last year.
The generally anxious mood has even had knock-on effects on concerns about catastrophic stellar events. Now, 22% globally and 19% of Americans think an asteroid strike on earth is likely in 2023 (up from 16% and 14% last year, respectively), while 18% globally and 17% of Americans expect aliens to visit the earth (up from 14% and 13% last year, respectively). The country with the highest percentage expecting visitors from outer space in 2023 is India (43%).
Environment in 2023
Most people around the world believe we will see more climate change consequences in 2023. For example, 65% globally (up from 60% last year) say it is likely there will be more extreme weather events in their country next year, with 64% of Americans also feeling the same. Few Americans (23%) think new technology could be developed to halt climate change, toward the bottom of the pessimism felt regarding climate change-related technological innovation across other countries.
Around half (52%) of all Americans feel that 2023 will be the hottest year on record. More than one in three are even more pessimistic, with 36% thinking that parts of the U.S. will become unlivable due to an extreme weather event. Globally, 57% think 2023 will be the hottest year on record and 36% think parts of their country will become unlivable due to extreme weather.
The U.S. shows the third-highest percentage of citizens expecting a natural disaster to hit a major city in their country (65%), trailing only Indonesia (78%) and Turkey (66%). That is 20 points higher than the global average of 45%.
Expectations for major progress in tackling climate change are relatively low: The expectation of seeing people flying less than they did in 2019 (the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic) is now shared by 42% on average globally, down from 45% last year. Only one-third in the U.S. think people will fly less than they did before the pandemic. This is no doubt driven by a desire to resume foreign travel habits as the rules and restrictions introduced to try to limit the spread of Covid have been eased around the world. Only around one-third of Americans think it is likely that the number of bicycles will outnumber the number of cars in their capital city (31%).
Society in 2023
Around half of Americans (51%) and six in 10 globally (60%) anticipate no further Covid-19 lockdowns in their country next year as people get back to some form of normality. In China and South Korea, around half of the surveyed people (43% and 44% respectively) think it is likely that this will be the case. In contrast, the vast majority in Indonesia (82%) are very confident that they will not experience further lockdowns in 2023.
It is not yet clear to what degree the changes to working patterns that were enforced by Covid will persist and continue to evolve – only around one in three globally (37%) and in the U.S. (38%) believe that it will become normal for businesses in their country to implement a four-day working week during 2023. The proportion thinking that many more people will live their lives in virtual worlds is virtually unchanged from last year at 56% at the global level, but it is down slightly in the U.S. to 46%.
Globally, around one in three (34%) say that people in their country will become more tolerant of each other, but there are massive differences from one country to another. Indonesia has the highest level of hope in this area, with 81% saying people will be more tolerant. In the U.S., 27% believe people will become more tolerant of each other (up from 21% in 2022), which, while lower than the global average, still ranks above Japan (12%) and France (17%).
Technology in 2023
Some expect to see space feature heavily in 2023: Around half of Americans (48%) and global respondents (47%) expect the launch of a rocket to Mars in the coming year. Nearly four in ten (39%) globally think a space tourism service will offer people trips to land on the moon, higher than the 29% of Americans who think the same.
Fewer (27% globally and 19% Americans) think it is likely that an implant will be successfully implanted in a human brain to restore lost memories.
Hope springs eternal. Even with all of the negativity and uncertainty surrounding the future, two in three Americans (64%) expect to have a better year in 2023 than they did in 2022. The proportion of optimists ranges from 36% in Japan to 83% in China and 85% in Brazil and Mexico. However, the percentage of optimists globally about the coming year is down by an average of 12 points what it was last year to 65%.
Optimism for the coming year has by at least 10 percentage points in 24 of the 32 countries covered both this year and last, with particularly large declines in Sweden (-26 points), Italy, Denmark, and South Korea (all down 19 points), and Japan (-18 points). In only one market has optimism gone up – Brazil – and even there it has only gone up marginally (from 82% to 85%). The U.S. shows a 7-point drop from 71% last year to 64% this year.
As in most years, three in four globally (74%) say they will make some personal resolutions to do some specific things for themselves or others in 2023, with 69% of Americans saying the same. As many as 91% in Peru, 90% in Colombia and Mexico, and 89% in China say so. The Netherlands (45%) Japan (41%) and Sweden (35%) are the only countries where a minority will be making resolutions for the new year.
About this study
These are the results of a 36-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 24,471 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Republic of Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, 20-74 in Thailand, 21-74 in Indonesia and Singapore, and 16-74 in 26 other markets between Friday, October 21 and Friday, November 4, 2022.
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