Are Americans Pessimistic About the Prospects for the Next Generation?

Gary Becker has recently written an interesting article on the Becker-Posner blog about polls suggesting that the majority of parents in the United States are not confident that their children will be better off economically than they are. He suggests that the best way to counter such pessimism is to promote faster economic growth.

The article made me feel slightly uneasy because I wrote something a few months ago suggesting that the poll results actually conflict with the view that Americans are pessimistic about the future for their children. Have I mis-read the poll results? How much have the poll results changed over the last year or so?

Scott Winship has recently considered the evidence of a variety of polls on his blog: here and here. In brief, the polls indicate that the proportion of Americans who think that their children will have better standards of living than themselves consistently exceeds the proportion who think their children will have worse standards of living. The margin tends to narrow during recessions but, even this year, the polls suggest that optimism is no lower than in the mid-1990s (see Pew Research Center poll results here).

Rather than trying to explain why Americans have become more pessimistic perhaps researchers should be trying to explain why Americans are still so optimistic.

Q2 GDP Reading Surprises Most

On Friday, the Commerce Department confirmed that Q2 GDP growth was 1.6%. Many of the details pointed to good news for the U.S. Economy. With inflation almost non-existent the report also shows that year over year the economy is up 3.0% Reading surprised almost all analysts to on the upside.

Many stock traders focused on the U.S. final sales number of the report. Real final sales to domestic purchasers was revised up to 4.3% from the initial estimate of 4.1%

So even though overall economic growth slowed from the first quarter’s 3.7% pace, domestic demand was actually stronger-4.3% compared to 1.3% in the first quarter.

In summary, the latest GDP revisions report is quite supportive of continued recovery for the U.S. economy for the foreseeable future.

Economic Events on August 30, 2010

At 8:30 AM EDT, the monthly Personal Income and Outlays report for July will be released.  The consensus for Personal Income is an increase of 0.3% over the previous month  and the consensus Core PCE price index change is an increase of 0.1%.