Americans Highly Uncertain about the Country’s Economic Strength and Place
on the World Stage in 10 Years, Anticipate Consensus on Social Issues
“America Looks to 2024: The Atlantic/Aspen Institute Survey” Released Today
at Aspen Ideas Festival; Results and Analysis at TheAtlantic.com and
Historical Sense of Optimism in Steep Decline; Less Division on Social Issues
NEW YORK -- July 1, 2014
When asked to imagine what the U.S. will look like in 2024, 65 percent of
American respondents are not convinced the country will be on the right track
in 10 years. Two-thirds of respondents do not believe that America will be
considered the “land of opportunity” in 10 years, and seven in 10 Americans
are not certain that working hard and playing by the rules will bring success
in 2024. However, a new social consensus is emerging, with overwhelming
majorities believing that same-sex marriage (73 percent) and marijuana use (66
percent) will be legal in most states. These findings are according to a
special survey commissioned by The Atlantic and the Aspen Institute and
released today at the organizations’ 10th annual Aspen Ideas Festival, and
conducted by research firm Penn Schoen Berland (PSB) in partnership with
global public relations and strategic communications firm Burson-Marsteller.
This marks the sixth consecutive year that PSB and Burson-Marsteller have
conducted an exclusive poll for the Aspen Ideas Festival. Full results and
analysis of the poll—“America Looks to 2024: The Atlantic/Aspen Institute
Survey”—are available at TheAtlantic.com and at AspenIdeas.org.
The results of this year’s survey will be delivered in a special presentation
during the Aspen Ideas Festival by Burson-Marsteller Worldwide Chair and Chief
Executive Officer and PSB Chair Donald A. Baer, along with The Atlantic’s
Editor-in-Chief James Bennet, Aspen Institute Executive Vice President Elliot
Gerson and Mark Penn, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at
Microsoft and former CEO of Burson-Marsteller and PSB.
“This year’s study revealed a dramatic reversal in Americans’ traditional view
of the nation,” said Baer. “We are seeing marked uncertainty about the
country’s strength in 10 years, yet growing agreement on the shape of society
and issues typically considered social wedges. It is our hope that surveys
such as this can provide insight into the challenges and opportunities we face
as nation so we can work toward a stronger future.”
Two groups who remain hopeful about America’s prospects are African-Americans
and Hispanics; they tend to believe America is on the right track and will
remain a land of opportunity. Women, however, appear more pessimistic than
men. They are less likely to believe they will be better off financially or
heading toward a secure retirement in 10 years. They are also less likely to
believe their children will be better off in 10 years or that they will be
able to afford their children’s college tuition.
The Dispensable Nation?
Americans are not confident the country will enjoy a leadership position on
the world stage in 2024. Only three in 10 envision America’s global standing
being on the rise in 10 years, and most, 68 percent, think China, not the U.S.
will be a superpower in 10 years. A majority – 53 percent – believe China will
be the world’s largest economic force in 10 years.
The future of America’s ability to govern itself is in deep doubt, as
two-thirds of Americans are not convinced the U.S. will be more unified in 10
years. A majority, 54 percent, think government will be bigger in 10 years,
but most do not say it will be more effective (35 percent say less effective,
33 percent do not know). Americans also anticipate a less peaceful world. By
2024, 19 percent of Americans expect the U.S. to engage in armed conflict with
China, 31 percent foresee it with Russia, and nearly half – 45 percent –
predict armed conflict with Iran.
The United States of Technology
Meanwhile, confidence in technology remains strong. A majority (63 percent)
believe technology has made their lives better and will continue to do so in
10 years, and technology entrepreneurs are most likely (44 percent) to be
considered the future leaders of American society. Most foresee technology
surrounding them in 10 years, either in the form of robots (59 percent),
drones (70 percent) or medicine capable of monitoring and reporting changes in
the body (60 percent).
“Not surprisingly, Americans see value in how technology is improving their
lives today,” said Penn. “There’s not just acceptance oftechnology in these
numbers; there is also agreement that technology will make people's lives
better in the next decade.”
The study’s findings also revealed expectations for how Americans will live in
*Fifty-six percent expect marriage to be less common in 10 years, and 63
percent expect divorce to be more common.
*Twenty percent expect to buy an electric car in 10 years, and 69 percent
expect gas prices to rise by more than $2 per gallon.
*Nearly half (47 percent) think airline delays will be longer in 10 years
than they are today.
*More say they will read printed books (50 percent) than printed newspapers
or magazines (36 percent) 10 years from now.
Visit TheAtlantic.com for the full summary of the survey and an analysis of
the results by Baer and Penn. To learn more about the survey, visit
AspenIdeas.org and Burson-Marsteller.com.
About this Study
PSB, working with Burson Marsteller, conducted 2,001 online interviews with
the United States general population from May 28 – 31, 2014. The overall
margin of error is ± 2.19 percent. The data presented in this study are
reflective of U.S. Census Bureau demographic statistics in terms of gender,
age, ethnicity, income, education, and region.
Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations
and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and
program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs,
reputation and crisis management, advertising and digital strategies. The
firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 72 offices and 87 affiliate
offices, together operating in 112 countries across six continents.
Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Group, a subsidiary of WPP
(NASDAQ:WPPGY), the world’s leading communications services network. For more
information, please visit bm.com.
About Penn Schoen Berland
Penn Schoen Berland, a unit of WPP, is a global research-based consultancy
that specializes in messaging and communications strategy for blue-chip
political, corporate, and entertainment clients. PSB has over 30 years of
experience in leveraging unique insights about consumer opinion to provide
clients with a competitive advantage – what it calls Winning Knowledge. PSB
executes polling and message testing services for Fortune 100 companies and
has helped elect more than 30 presidents and prime ministers around the world.
For more information, please visit www.psbresearch.com.
Catherine Sullivan, 212-614-4186
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