Most national publics around the world -a global median of 69%- are dissatisfied with the way things are going in their country. By this broad measure of national unease, which may encompass public perception of economic, political, social and security conditions, half or more of the publics in 36 of the 44 nations surveyed say conditions in their society are not good.
The global public is generally downbeat about the economic situation in their countries, except in Asia.
Their mood reflects recent economic conditions. Global growth slowed in the first quarter of 2014, immediately prior to the survey. At 2.75%, it was down a full percentage point from the growth experienced in the second half of 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund. Some nations, especially advanced economies, such as Japan, Germany, Spain, and the UK, performed better than expected. But their success was outweighed by disappointing growth in China and the U.S. And weak demand in those economies sapped economic growth in emerging markets, where success is often driven by exports to the U.S. and China.
In advanced economies, a median of just 34% say their economy is in good shape, and only 39% in emerging economies share similar positive views. In developing economies, publics are divided: 51% say their economy is doing well and 47% see it performing poorly. These views are relatively unchanged in the emerging markets that were surveyed in both 2013 and 2014. But in the 10 advanced economies surveyed in both years, the median who hold the view that their economy is good has actually improved by 16 percentage points, a sign that even the modest economic recovery experienced in parts of Europe, Japan and the U.S. is resonating with the public.
The IMF expects the world economy to pick up a bit, growing at 3.4% in 2014, slightly faster than in 2013, and expand by 4% in 2015.
However, the public, wary about the prospect of such growth, is split down the middle between expectations of improvement and the assumption that things will stay the same or will worsen. A median of 46% across the 44 countries surveyed expect their economy to improve. An equal proportion of people say it will remain the same (26%) or worsen (20%).