Monday 23 September 2019

We're EU's eternal optimists despite fears of a recession

A recession may be looming but Irish people are among the most optimistic in the EU that their lives will be better in 20 years' time, a survey revealed yesterday.

The Eurobarometer survey found that people in Ireland (67pc) were second only to Estonia (78pc) when it came to believing they would be better off in 2028.

But the survey was conducted in April, before economic gloom descended.

Irish and British people were also the most likely to strongly agree that everyone should pay higher taxes (19pc) to fund public services.

Ireland, the UK, Cyprus and the Netherlands were the only member states where an overall majority believed higher taxes should be paid to support health and essential services.

Irish people's cheery forecast about the future contrasted with the more gloomy outlook from European citizens in general, 49pc of whom thought they would be worse off in 2028. Overall, fewer than four in ten Europeans think their futures will improve. Optimism about people's lives decreased with age, but increased with educational attainment and urbanisation.

The survey, released by the European Commission yesterday, also found that newer member states were more optimistic than older EU states, making Ireland's position all the more noteworthy.

For instance, in the UK, just 36pc thought their lives would be better in 20 years and that figure was as low as 27pc in France.

When asked if they felt they would earn less because of competition from rising economies like China's, 16pc of Irish agreed compared to an EU average of 27pc. Italy was the country most fearful of this happening (35pc).

Asked whether they expected improvements in working conditions, respondents in Ireland again had great expectations. The survey showed 76pc here believed their work life would improve, outdone only by those surveyed in Estonia (85pc) and Lithuania (77pc).

Asked whether the gap between rich and poor would be wider, 25pc of Irish believed this would happen, compared to an EU average of 27pc.

The people of Denmark were the most pessimistic, and 43pc thought the wealth divide would get wider.

When it came to being able to afford a house, those surveyed in Ireland were more pessimistic than respondents in many other nations -- with just 24pc having positive long-term expectations about affordable housing, compared to 55pc in the UK and an EU average of 29pc. The concept of active aging was widely accepted, with 80pc of EU citizens believing that people would work to a later age in the future.

Agreement that there would be more equality in opportunities at work for men and women was highest in Malta (89pc) followed by Ireland (83pc). Of all the EU's member states, Ireland had the highest proportion of people who "strongly agreed" with this prediction.

Equality

People here were also more likely to believe access to education would be easier in 20 years' time (79pc).

Nine out of 10 EU citizens, meanwhile, believed there should be stricter rules to ensure lifestyles were more respectful of the environment.

A majority favoured stronger public support for those who gave time to others or social causes, and a majority also favoured policies to close the gap between rich and poor.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News