Pew: Chinese stay optimistic in an otherwise gloomy world

AP News
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Posted: Jul 23, 2015 10:31 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Maybe someone should tell the Chinese their economy is slowing. They don't seem to buy it.

The Pew Research Center finds that a world-beating 90 percent of Chinese say their economy is good. And 84 percent expect things to be even better in 12 months.

According to the International Monetary Fund, China's economic growth will decelerate this year to the slowest pace since 1990: 6.8 percent, down from 7.4 percent in 2014. But Pew found that Chinese are feeling even sunnier about today's economy than they did in 2007 when growth surged 14.2 percent.

Only Nigerians (92 percent) and residents of the West African country of Burkina Faso (85 percent) are more optimistic about the next year, according to a Pew survey, released Thursday, of 45,435 adults in 40 countries.

Overall, Pew found that people around the world are still gloomy six years after the end of the Great Recession: Just 45 percent — and 40 percent of Americans — describe economic conditions in their country as good.

The survey was conducted before the Chinese stock market started tumbling June 12. And Bruce Stokes, Pew's director of global economic attitudes, notes "people's views on the economy may take a while to change. As in the U.S., economic sentiment may take a while to jell."

In America, the survey revealed a partisan divide: Just 25 percent of Republicans say the U.S. economy is good, compared to 55 percent of Democrats and 38 percent of independents.

People in low- and middle-income countries tended to have a more positive outlook on their economies. Ethiopians were almost as upbeat as the Chinese: 89 percent say their economy is good, as do 86 percent of Vietnamese.

Among advanced economies, 75 percent of Germans, 57 percent of Canadians, 55 percent of Australians and 52 percent of British give their economies high marks.

Between 2014 and 2015, Nigerians registered the biggest improvement in attitude: 57 percent say their economy is doing well this year, up from 39 percent in 2014.

Just 3 percent of Ukrainians felt good about their economy, perhaps not surprising for a country contending with deep financial problems and an ongoing confrontation with Russia. Only 10 percent of Lebanese and 12 percent of Italians described their economies as good.

Malaysians' attitude deteriorated the most last year: Just 46 percent say their economy is good, down from 72 percent last year. Chile saw positive ratings drop to 45 percent from 69 percent in 2014. Only 24 percent of Russians rate their economy as good, down from 44 percent in 2014.