Devastating displays of a world at odds are recent attacks in Manchester, Paris, Kabul and more.
There is one thing the world can largely seem to agree on: the world is getting worse despite increased political and economic polarization.
The fact that the world has become worse in the past year, rather than getting better or staying the same was agreed to by about 60 percent of more than 21,000 people from 36 countries in all regions of the world who were surveyed recently.
The question without further specifications, leaving interpretation up to survey respondents, was presented by the Best Countries survey, which aims to gauge global perceptions of the state of the world. shortly after the U.K.’s Brexit and Brazil’s presidential impeachment and just after U.S. President Donald Trump had been elected was the time that this year’s survey was conducted.
“Threats to freedom, democracy and institutions in society that people rely on affect people immediately and their view of the future for their family and children.”-Neal Rubin, professor of international psychology at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology
Dr. Neal Rubin, a professor of international psychology at the Illinois School of Professional Psychology says that the reasons driving responses to the survey question depend on individual circumstances and personalities. But especially in terms of fighting disease, hunger and education inequality, progress has been made against the United Nations’ development goals, even while economic inequality is growing.
Fear and anxiety about the future may be in play for those with a declinist sentiment, he says.
“Safety and being able to maintain a way of life may feel under threat,” he says. “Threats to freedom, democracy and institutions in society that people rely on affect people immediately and their view of the future for their family and children.”
Turkey, which recently faced an attempted military coup, got the strongest negative response of the 36 countries surveyed. The world had become worse in the past year, said more than 80 percent of people surveyed in Turkey.
Rubin says that linked to anxiety about the future are modernization, with rapidly increasing globalization and urbanization.
“As society is modernized and ways of life change, people have to adapt to the new ways in which society structures life and socioeconomic status plays into identities,” he says. “The loss of cultural roots and traditions and changes in identity can lead to alienation, depression and hopelessness about ways to adapt to future.”
But sometimes, at least a more positive outlook or buying happiness by money is possible. Most likely to look back on the past year positively were survey respondents in India and China, two countries that have reaped some of the greatest economic benefits of globalization. The world has improved in the past year, said more than 40 percent from China and more than 50 percent of respondents from India.
One of the most prominent risks identified in the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Report for 2017 were “profound social instability” linked to increased polarization of society, an aging population and rising income inequality.
But World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab writes that a more “inward-looking world” creates opportunities to address the risks at hand.
“This will require responsive and responsible leadership with a deeper commitment to inclusive development and equitable growth, both nationally and globally,” he says. “It will also require collaboration across multiple interconnected systems, countries, areas of expertise, and stakeholder groups with the aim of having a greater societal impact.”
(Adapted from CNBC)