Hope, Philanthropy & Activism Among Americans


Insights on Americans, specifically their optimism about the future, feelings of hope of powerlessness, whether their activism has increased, and whether their philanthropic activities have increased over the past few years.

Early Findings


  • In 1997, the Pew Research published a study on the optimism gap in the US. The study revealed that Americans were less positive about the state of the country than the last 15 years. However, most were optimistic about the future.
  • When asked to rate their personal lives, the average rating at the time was 6.7 out of 10, five years prior, the rating was much less at 5.8. When asked to rate their feelings about their future, specifically five years from 1997, the average rating was 7.7.
  • The respondents were also asked to rate the state of the nation. The average rating at the time was 5.4, less than five years ago at 5.6. In reference to the state of the nation in the next five years, the average rating was 5.7.


  • In 2006, the Pew Research published a study showing that Americans see less progress on their ladder of life. The study asked the respondents what the next five years holds for them, 49% of the respondents "rated the quality of the life they expect to be leading five years from now higher than their current quality of life," compared to 61% in 2002, roughly 55% in 1996, and 50% in 1982.
  • In 2008, Gallup did a study that showed that Americans regarded the Obama Election as a milestone, in terms of racial relations. Specifically 38% of Americans mentioned that Obama's election was one of the most important advances in terms of progress for Blacks in the US, while 33% asserted that it was the most important advance in the past ten decades.
  • The same study revealed that Americans were strongly more optimistic about racial relations in the US. 67% of Americans opined that with the election of Obama as president, a "solution to relations between blacks and whites will eventually be worked out," while 30% said the "relations between blacks and whites will always be a problem in the United States."
  • In reference to Obama being president at the time, 67% were proud and/or optimistic, while 59% were excited, 30% were pessimistic, and 27% were afraid.
  • The Pew Research Center published another study in 2010, which showed that 64% of Americans were optimistic about the long-term future for themselves and their family, compared to a whooping 81% in 1999. Regarding the future of the US, 61% were optimistic, compared to 70% in 1999.
  • In reference to the US economy, 56% said it will be stronger than it was in 2010 in the long-term future, compared to 64% in 1999. Regarding racial relation, 68% thought it would improve. The same number of people thought the same in 1999.


  • Based on a 2018 survey by Streetbees, American youths are less optimistic about the future than those in developing countries like India. About 77% of Americans between ages 18 to 24 reported feeling optimism about their future, compared to 97% of Nigerians, 72% of youth in the UK, and 94% of those in India.
  • A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center proved that Americans are pessimistic about a lot of aspects of life in the US.
  • Based on this study, almost 60% of Americans "are somewhat or very optimistic about what the country will be like in 2050" however, post are pessimistic about the specific changes expected to happen.
  • Roughly 73% mentioned the gap between rich and poor will grow, with 44% saying that the average family's standard of living will get worse by 2050.

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