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Europeans sharply divided about future prospects

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Europeans sharply divided about future prospects

Expectations well below those for the US and China.

According to a new report from financial services giant ING and employee engagement firm Motivaction, more than a third (37%) of Europeans are optimistic about their future standard of living over the next five years. But over a fifth (23%) are pessimistic, leaving a net optimism balance of only 14%. There are sharp divisions on personal goals and expectations depending on background, income, their personal circumstances and where they live.

The study was conducted among over 13,000 people in 13 countries and explores their values in life, views on goal setting and standard of living.

Rising standards of living and greater optimism are more prevalent among higher income and highly educated groups.

There are clear divisions within society, with stark differences at a country and regional level in terms of expectations of standard of living over the next five years. In general, people's expectations reflect their experiences over the last five years.

In the faster growing Eastern economies people are generally more positive about the future as the economies continue to mature, while a lackluster recovery in Western Europe leaves people less optimistic.

Among the more crisis-hit economies, Spain is a dramatic exception to the pattern of expectations reflecting past experience. Following a robust economic rebound, a net balance of 54% of people in Spain are now optimistic about their living standards, matching the continued optimism of those in China. In contrast, people in France, Belgium and Italy are far more pessimistic, reflecting the economic and political challenges facing these countries. Optimism for improvement in the UK is also relatively low.

Expectations in Europe as a whole (37%) also lag behind the USA and China, where expectations about standard of living are much more positive (45% and 64%), reflecting the relative strength of these two superpowers.

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