AMERICA 2050: Inequality Crisis, Automation Threat, Debt Shock

Pew Research Center published a report last week that reveals how pessimistic Americans are about the country's future.

“When Americans peer 30 years into the future, they see a country in decline economically, politically and on the world stage,” the report warned.

A narrow 56% of Americans believe the country will be made great again over the next three decades. However, optimism drops when respondents were asked about some of the specific ways in which the country might change. An overwhelming majority of Americans predict that, by 2050, the income inequality crisis will expand, the economy will deteriorate, the national debt will be unserviceable, artificial intelligence and automation will threaten the workforce, political division domestically will intensify, and the American empire will be nearing collapse.

Seventy-three percent of respondents said the inequality crisis would increase by 2050. This includes 75% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans - a notable area of agreement between party lines.

Forty-four percent of respondents said the standard of living for Americans would decline in the next three decades.  Only 20% believe it will get better and about 30% think there will be no change.

Many believe retirement could be unattainable in 2050. Fifty-seven percent said ages 65 and older would see a drop in the standard of living. About 72% said older adults three decades from now would have depleted retirement accounts which could make their golden years financially impossible. Eighty-three percent believe most people will have to work well into their 70s to afford retirement.

Eighty-two percent of respondents expect widespread job loss from artificial intelligence and automation in the future. Many believe that demographics, automation, and inequality could make the economy of 2050 unrecognizable versus today.

Respondents also see the American empire dissolving in the next three decades. Sixty percent of Americans say the country will lose its importance in the world. The respondents were somewhat split on whether China would overtake the U.S. as a superpower. Fifty-three percent said China would overtake the U.S., while 46% believe the West will continue to lead the world.

Americans expect political divisions to intensify, however, Pew didn't poll respondents on the potential for civil war. About 50% of respondents said they are concerned about the dysfunction in Washington, including 53% of Democrats and 45% of Republicans.

Nearly 50% of respondents said a burgeoning national debt would be likely in 2050. Most understood that in a post-GFC era, massive budget deficits rocketed the national debt higher.

These grim predictions mirror, in part, the current mood of the people. The future of the American empire is in jeopardy, the survivability of this nation is in question. Will America make it to 2050 in one piece?