This survey measured pessimism based on one question and two statements. When asked ‘How do you think things are generally going in the Netherlands?’ in 2021, the majority (57 percent) of over-15s stated that things were heading in the wrong direction. Of these, 39 percent said things were somewhat going in the wrong direction while 19 percent said it was clearly going in the wrong direction. In addition, 44 percent said they agreed with the statement ‘For most people, life is getting worse rather than better’, down from 35 percent in 2018. With the statement ‘The future looks hopeful as things stand now’, 39 percent disagreed. In 2018, this was 26 percent.
|Stellingen pessimisme||2021 (% of persons aged 15 yrs and over)||2018 (% of persons aged 15 yrs and over)|
|Things in the Netherlands are going in the wrong direction||57.4||38.0|
|For most people, life is getting worse rather than better||43.5||34.7|
The future looks hopeful
More pessimism among the elderly
Compared to 2018, pessimism increased in all age groups last year. However, young people were generally less pessimistic than elderly people. For example, 36 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds believed that life was getting worse rather than better, versus 53 percent of over-75s. Furthermore, 50 percent of those in the 15-24 age group said things in the Netherlands were heading in the wrong direction, compared with 62 percent among those over 75.
|Stellingen pessimisme||15-24 yrs (%)||25-34 yrs (%)||35-44 yrs (%)||45-54 yrs (%)||55-64 yrs (%)||65-74 yrs (%)||75 yrs and over (%)|
|Things in the Netherlands are going in the wrong direction||50||57.3||52.7||57.4||61.8||61.7||62|
|For most people, life is getting worse rather than better||36||41.6||41.3||43.2||45.3||47.3||53.1|
The future looks hopeful
Mainly more pessimism among highly educated
In 2021, people aged 15 and over were more pessimistic than in 2018 across all education levels, particularly the higher educated. For example, in 2018, 23 percent of those with a Bachelor’s degree at HBO or WO level disagreed with the statement ‘The future looks hopeful’. In 2021, this share had risen to 37 percent. Of the higher educated with a Bachelor’s degree, the share who believed life was getting worse rather than better was 23 percent in 2018, against 35 percent in 2021. The sharpest rise was seen among those highly educated who thought it was going in the wrong direction: from 32 percent in 2018 to 56 percent in 2021. A similar pattern emerged among people with lower education levels, but the increase was generally less substantial in these groups.
Despite the increase among the highly educated, there is more pessimism among those with lower education levels. However, the differences between the education levels were smaller in 2021 compared to 2018.
|Het gaat de verkeerde kant op in Nederland||2021 (% of persons aged 15 yrs and over)||2018 (% of persons aged 15 yrs and over)|
|VMBO, junior years of AVO, MBO 1||60.0||41.2|
|MBO 2,3,4, HAVO, VWO||60.9||40.8|
|HBO Bachelor, WO Bachelor||55.8||32.3|
|HBO Master, WO Master, PhD||48.3||29.6|