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Americans are expecting the worst of the future, with the country rapidly changing. They also agree that politicians likely won't know how to handle the new world, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.

Expand chart
Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Americans fear:

  • Terrorism: 60% think that a terrorist attack as bad or worse than 9/11 will happen in the next 30 years.
  • Inferior education: 77% worry about whether public schools will be able to provide a quality education to future students.
  • Little or no retirement money: 85% said that by the time they retire they expect to receive no benefits or less benefits from Social Security.
  • Jobs taken by robots: 82% said robots and computers will probably or definitely do much of the work performed by humans today.
  • An old America: More than half say that the elderly outnumbering children in the U.S. will be bad for the country, and the majority say that responsibility for their care will fall on family members and older people themselves.
  • Inept politicians: More than 80% are worried about the way D.C. politics works — including almost half who said they are "very worried."

Between the lines: Americans are starkly divided over growing diversity and the threat of climate change.

  • Diversity: 59% of Republicans and 46% of whites said that a majority nonwhite population will weaken American culture, vs. 18% of African-Americans and 25% of Hispanics. 42% of Democrats and 30% overall said American customs and values would be strengthened.
  • Climate change: 60% of Democrats said they are "very worried" about climate change, vs. 15% of Republicans.

Go deeper

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.