Survey: next generation to live in more dangerous world

By NNN-Bernama

Dubai : The latest findings of a global survey carried out for the World Economic Forum show a lack of faith that the next generation will live in a safer world.

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Respondents were asked about prospects for a safer and more economically prosperous world but the results showed there is still lack of optimism on both counts, most notably in Western Europe and North America, according to a World Economic Forum release.

The survey, now in its fifth year, also found that business leaders are widely held in better esteem than their political counterparts but significant proportions still criticise both sets of leaders, with dishonesty heavily associated with political leaders.

Gallup International, an association of market research companies, which conducted the survey questioned 61,600 people in 60 countries for the “Voice of the People” survey.

The interviews, carried out between October and December 2007, represent the views of almost 1.5 billion global citizens. Results of the survey were released ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos from January 23 to 27.

Commenting on the survey findings, Klaus Schwab, executive chairman and founder of the World Economic Forum, said: “This survey shows that if we are to restore confidence in the future, we need to take concerted, global action.”

Regionally, Western Europe is the most pessimistic region in the world about future prospects for safety — two-thirds (69 percent) in this region feel the next generation will live in a less safe world (either a lot less safe or a little less safe) while only one in 10 (11 percent) feel the world will be a lot or a little safer for the next generation.

North America (the United States and Canada) is the next most pessimistic region, with six out of 10 (62 percent) also supporting the view that the world will be a less safe place for future generations, while only 13 percent felt that the world will be a safer place.

Two-thirds of the Americans interviewed (61 percent) also held the view that the world will be a less safe place for future generations with slightly more than one in 10 (14 percent) maintaining the opposite view that the world will be either a lot or a little safer, the survey found.

However, in the Middle East, an area of the world that has experienced many conflicts in recent times, the region’s population is still not upbeat about prospects for safety in the future.

Almost a quarter of those interviewed (23 percent) feel it will be safer (a lot or a little), compared with more than half (51 percent) who feel the opposite.

Within the Middle East region, interviews were conducted in Iraq where there is slightly more optimism on the issue of safety.

In Iraq, six in every 10 (61 percent) interviewed at the end of 2005 thought the next generation will live in a safer world; in 2006 this proportion had declined to nearly half this figure with only a third (36 percent) believing it.

In 2007, it rose again slightly to four in 10 (40 percent) who believe the next generation will live in a lot or a little safer world.

Respondents were also asked whether they think the future generation will live in a world of greater or less economic prosperity. The results showed that there has been a significant fall in optimism regarding this element.

Opinions are divided regarding this matter: a third of global respondents (33 percent) indicated that the next generation will live in a lot or little more economically prosperous world than now, a similar proportion (36 percent) felt it will be a lot or a little less prosperous for the future generation.

Once again, Western Europe is the most pessimistic region with less than one in five (19 percent) feeling the world will be more prosperous for the next generation, while more than half (54 percent) think it will be a lot or a little less prosperous.

Although American citizens are also not overly optimistic about economic prospects — a quarter here (27 percent) think the next generation will have a lot or a little more prosperity — fewer US citizens (43 percent) than those in Western Europe feel that the next generation will be a lot or a little less prosperous economically than now.

People were also asked to say what they think leaders should focus on in the coming year, another trend question since 2004. In previous years, economic objectives such as eliminating poverty, promoting economic growth and closing the gap between rich and poor scored marginally higher than the other priorities offered.

This year, while these priorities are still present, they are joined by reducing wars, the war on terror and protecting the environment.

The “Voice of the People” survey also asked respondents to compare the characteristics of political leaders with those of business leaders.

As in previous years, business leaders are consistently rated more positively than political leaders, with criticisms of the latter group featuring heavily on their dishonesty — mentioned by six out of 10 global citizens (60 percent) — a considerable increase from the 43 percent who mentioned this last year.