Fearful Europeans

Only the Danes are significantly more positive than the rest of Europeans. More than four of five Danes look hopefully into the future. As an explanation, a British-American Tobacco’s foundation, which recently published a research on Europeans’ attitudes, notes that the Danes increasingly think about personal quality of life instead of the economic standard of living when referring to the term ‘future’. For them, this includes, for example, emancipation, work-life balance or child-friendly areas, where Denmark is far ahead compared to the rest of Europe.

Nevertheless, the discussions about euro bonds, government debt and bankruptcies have left traces all over the Old Continent. Just two out of five Europeans (40%) say that they view the future with hope.

In 2010, it was nearly one out of every two Europeans (48%). This result is based on a previous study by the Foundation for Future Studies, for which 15,000 Europeans in 13 countries were questioned. In particular, older Europeans (55 and over) rarely expressed optimism for the future (29%). In contrast, nearly half of the younger generation (47%), those under 34 years old, look hopefully into the future.

By country comparison, the scepticism of the larger nations is particularly clear. Dr. Ulrich Reinhardt, scientific director of the foundation:

“The citizens of economically strong countries are worried about losing a part of their own prosperity and paying for the standard of living for others in the future. But this is short-sighted: countries, such as Germany, Italy or France, would not have achieved such economic strength nor such prosperity without decades of peace, without a low inflation rate since the introduction of the euro or without the profits from exports to other euro-area countries.”

Out of 100 respondents, those who agreed with the statement “I look hopefully into the future”:

    European Average         2011 = 40 percent ...(2010 = 48%)
    Denmark                  2011 = 83 percent ...(2010 = 85%)
    Spain                    2011 = 53 percent ...(2010 = 57%)
    Switzerland              2011 = 52 percent ...(2010 = 56%)
    Poland                   2011 = 39 percent ...(2010 = 46%)
    Austria                  2011 = 38 percent ...(2010 = 38%)
    Russia                   2011 = 37 percent ...(2010 = 37%)
    Greece                   2011 = 37 percent ...(2010 = 54%)
    The Netherlands          2011 = 36 percent ...(2010 = 35%)
    France                   2011 = 35 percent ...(2010 = 39%)
    Turkey                   2011 = 31 percent ...(2010 = 40%)
    Germany                  2011 = 30 percent ...(2010 = 35%)
    Italy                    2011 = 27 percent ...(2010 = 62%)
    Great Britain            2011 = 18 percent ...(2010 = 40%)

About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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