Is life better today than 50 years ago? Most Vietnamese say YES

By Vi Vu   December 5, 2017 | 09:07 pm PT
Is life better today than 50 years ago? Most Vietnamese say YES
People take morning exercise near the Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham
Economic confidence helps Vietnam lead a divided survey on whether life has progressed over the past five decades.

Half a century ago, Vietnam was suffering some of its darkest days as war engulfed the country.

Unsurprisingly, when the Pew Research Center asked people to compare life today with 50 years ago, 88 percent of Vietnamese people said it is better, the most positive assessment in the world.

The end of armed conflict apparently played a key role in giving Vietnamese people an upbeat attitude about the peaceful present, but views of the current economy are also a significant factor, Pew said.

People with positive views of the current economy are 30 percentage points more likely than those with negative views to say life has improved for them, it said.

In Vietnam, 91 percent of the respondents said the economic conditions are good.

Vietnam reported 6.2 percent economic growth last year and is among the fastest-growing economies in the region.

Vietnamese consumers are “extremely optimistic” about the economy and the second most optimistic in Asia Pacific, after Cambodia, Mastercard said in another survey in October.

But the global outlook is not so cheerful.

The Pew survey of nearly 43,000 people from 38 countries shows the world is deeply divided about how life has progressed over the past five decades.

Bar chart showing that globally, assessments vary on whether life is better or worse than 50 years ago

Only 20 countries are in favor of the present, while the other 18 feel their glory days are over, regardless of the Cold War, lack of personal computers and mobile phones, and poor healthcare in most parts of the world.

People in the Asia-Pacific region are among the most positive about the world’s progress, the study found, recording 69 percent of “better” votes in India, 68 percent in South Korea and 65 percent in Japan.

Europeans also view the past half-century as a period of progress, with upbeat assessments in Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

In the U.S., 41 percent said life is worse, while 37 percent said it is better. Republicans are more likely to say life is better today compared with Democrats, the survey found, describing it as an attitudinal shift in the wake of Donald Trump presidency.

Latin Americans are the most negative about the world’s progress, with 72 percent of Venezuelans and 68 percent of Mexicans saying life is worse today.

Across the Middle East, North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, the comparison varies by country, although the outlook is generally negative.

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