Despite the sputtering global economy of 2011, most people around the world are optimistic that 2012 will be a better year, according to a new poll. Nearly three quarters of citizens in 24 countries questioned in an Ipsos/Reuters survey see a rosier year ahead than what they experienced in 2011.
"This is the first glimmer of hope that we've seen in the last few years," said Clifford Young, senior vice president of Ipsos Public Affairs, "All indicators suggest that while people are lukewarm about the present, there are glimmers of hope going forward."
Optimism was strongest in France and Indonesia, where 91 percent think 2012 will be a better year, followed by Brazil at 90 percent and India and 89 percent.
But that faint silver lining isn't visible to everyone.
Italy, Japan and Sweden are the least sanguine about the future. In those countries only 45, 46, and 55 percent, respectively, expect this year to bring better times.
Hungary at 56 percent and Britain at 58 percent were also among the least optimistic.
"Europe is still a problematic place. It hasn't worked out all its issues," Young explained. "But North America, especially the United States, has shown signs of improvement."
Seventy four percent of U.S. citizens expressed optimism for 2012. Rather than a triumph of hope over experience, Young believes the results reflect a wary hopefulness.
"They see things are better: a little more job stability, the ability to put a little more food on the table," he said.
But only four in 10 of the 21,245 adults polled worldwide expect the global economy to be stronger in 2012.
France, Hungary, Belgium, Italy and Sweden were least likely to foresee a more robust global economy. Less wary are the emerging markets. A majority of those in India, Brazil, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia believe the global economy will gain strength.
"Overall people in emerging markets have felt pretty good about themselves, the economy and the future," Young said.
The survey showed that the young, the well-off and the educated have the highest hopes for this year. Nearly 80 percent of people younger than 35 agreed the new year would be better, as did 77 percent of those with a high household income, and 75 percent of those with a high level of education.
"The better off are less affected by the economic downturn," said Young. "They are best able to weather the economic storm."
The complete list of results and countries can be found at www.ipsosglobaladvisor.com/