Seventy-eight percent of Americans doubt their children will be better off in President Joe Biden’s America, according to a WSJ-NORC poll released Friday.
Seventy-eight percent represents the highest share of Americans who are pessimistic since the survey began asking the question in the 1990s.
One reason Americans worry the next generation will fall behind is that they are losing faith in the power of a college education to move them up the economic ladder. Some 56% of respondents said that a four-year college degree wasn’t worth the cost because people often graduate without specific job skills and with heavy debt. Meanwhile, 42% of respondents said it was worth it because people have a better chance to get a good job and earn more. That marked a reversal from the last time the question was asked in 2017, when a narrow plurality viewed college as worth the investment.
One driver of happiness is financial certainty and economic freedom. According to the poll, Americans are unhappy with their financial position:
A plurality of respondents, 44%, said their finances are in worse condition than they expected for this stage in life, and more than a third said they are not at all satisfied with how they are getting along financially. Fewer than 3 in 10 agreed that people like them and their family have a good chance of improving their standard of living.