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Most people around the world — at least in 26 countries surveyed by Ipsos — feel that their country is heading in the wrong direction. That's not the case in China, where 87% feel the country is on the rise.

Expand chart
Data: Ipsos World Affairs, July 2017 report; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it matters: The U.S. and China are the world's economic giants and, increasingly, rivals for geopolitical power. But while most Americans fear their country has slipped into decline, China is brimming with confidence.

The trends...
  • 60% in total feel their country is heading in the wrong direction, with just 7 of 26 countries feeling more optimistic than not.
  • Western Europe is universally pessimistic, while the Asian countries sampled are leading the world in optimism.
  • North America is split — Canada is among the most optimistic countries, while Mexico is the most pessimistic.
The causes for concern...
  1. Unemployment (36%)
  2. Financial/Political Corruption (34%)
  3. Poverty/Social Inequality (33%)
  4. Crime & Violence (30%)
  5. Healthcare (23%)
U.S. findings...
  • Between June and July, the right track number in the U.S. dropped by 4%, but it's actually higher than just prior to the presidential election (Oct 2016), when only 37% felt the country was on the right track.
  • Of the 26 countries, the U.S. was the least concerned about poverty and inequality.
  • The top concern switched from terrorism to healthcare between 2016 and 2017. Violence/crime was third.
China findings...
  • China was the only country where moral decline was the top issue. It was followed by the environment (named a top issue in China far more than in any other country) and unemployment.
  • 5% or less of the population was concerned about terrorism or immigration.
  • This isn't a new phenomenon — China has consistently led the monthly survey in optimism.

One important caveat: The survey was conducted online, and Ipsos points out that for some countries polled — including China as well as Brazil, India, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey — a smaller slice of the population was represented based on the fact that internet penetration is lower.

Go deeper

Updated 3 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.

The Biden protection plan

Joe Biden announces his first run for the presidency in June 1987. Photo: Howard L. Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

The Joe Biden who became the 46th president on Wednesday isn't the same blabbermouth who failed in 1988 and 2008.

Why it matters: Biden now heeds guidance about staying on task with speeches and no longer worries a gaffe or two will cost him an election. His staff also limits the places where he speaks freely and off the cuff. This Biden protective bubble will only tighten in the months ahead, aides tell Axios.