The 1980s probably will be marked by turmoil, unpleasantness and civil strife, pollster George Gallup Jr. told a group of Maryland businessmen today.
Gallup said Americans will face a "moral crisis of the first dimension" during the next decade unless something is done to halt society's moral decline.
"There will be a severe dislocation in society," Gallup said. The next decade probably will "not be a very pleasant decade to live in."
When asked by a businessman how the expected turmoil would manifest itself, Gallup said that "because of unemployment [and the] serious crowded ghetto situation, it can only go one way."
Gallup punctuated his hour-long remarks at a Loyola College of Maryland seminar for business chief executive officers with statistics drawn from his public opinion polls.
Alcoholism will increase: Four in 10 parents set no drinking guidlines for their children, Gallup said.
Crime will continue to be the highest in the world. One in four persons is mugged, robbed, assaulted or has had his home broken into, Gallup added.
The "dissolution of the family unit" will continue, and during the 1980s two in five children will live in single-parent homes, Gallup said. One of 5 teenagers is afraid of getting assaulted in school, and 6 out 10 teen-agers have cheated on school examinations, Gallup continued
In addition, voter apathy will continue, and young people will continue to reject politics as a profession "because of the staggering cost of getting in and staying in."
Gallup said that, contrary to predictions by the president's economic advisors, his polls show that 6 in 10 Americans say a recession is "very likely" or "fairly likely" and that it will be worse than in 1974 and 1975.
About 45 percent of Americans feel there will be more unemployment, and 25 percent feel there will be less, Gallup said. "The economy and the cost of living is the people's worry," he said.
To offset dire economic predictions, the public is ready to "take strong economic measures" and believes that inflation is more important to them than tax cuts, Gallup said. About 55 percent of Americans favor wage and price controls, he added.
But Gallup said that results of his first global study of living conditions show that Americans are "a lot better off than we think we are" compared with residents of other Western and developing countries.
One businessman asked Gallup what Americans expect from life. Gallup replied that since 1972 to 1977 -- which he characterized as "a very low ebb in national pride and confidence" resulting from Watergate, the Vietnam war and economic problems -- "people have a sense of altered reality and accept the fact that the American Dream may not come through. But I don't think it's made the public despondent."
Gallup added that, although Americans' belief in God has remained fairly constant, an increasing number is interested in volunteering to help the downtrodden and in instilling more discipline in children.
Despite his doomsday forecast, Gallup said Americans still have a "high degree of confidence in the nation."