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Andrew Osborn in Brussels Friday January 9, 2004 The Guardian
People in countries that have grappled with war or tumultuous change in the recent past are far more optimistic about the future than those living in stable, prosperous societies, a poll suggests. Gallup International's poll, for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Geneva this month, found that people living in some of the most prosperous, stable areas of the world felt "unsafe, powerless and gloomy".
Those living in recently created and often poor postwar societies, were defiantly optimistic and far more positive than people in Britain, Japan, France and the US.
"Gloom shrouds many countries on all continents," said a Gallup spokesperson. "Twice as many people globally rate international security as poor [compared with] the proportion who consider this good, which is 20%."
The survey, of 43,000 people in 51 countries, found that 48% believed the next generation would live in a less safe world. Western Europeans were the most pessimistic, with 64% being negative about the future and just 15% upbeat.
In Germany three-quarters polled were fearful about security, and in Switzerland 65% thought they were less prosperous now than 10 years ago. In Britain and France six in 10 were fearful about the future.
By contrast, in Afghanistan 90% said they felt safer now than a decade ago. Similar findings came from Georgia, which recently ousted its president, and Kosovo, Bosnia and Kenya.
In the US, 47% of those polled thought the world was about to become more dangerous and only 24% thought global security good. Gallup said, however, the interviews were carried out before Saddam Hussein was captured or Libya said it would surrender weapons of mass destruction.
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