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China leads the world in optimism

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.

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.

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