- It’s pleasantly surprising that Russians are convinced, by 50 percent to 28 percent, that life is better now than in 1967. One could ague that this has more to do with Russia’s current revanchism than a sober look at communism’s failures, but I am not sure about that. Vladimir Putin famously described the breakup of the Soviet Union as a “genuine tragedy.” It is cheering to see that most Russians do not agree.
- It is somewhat depressing that Tunisia, the one democracy in North Africa, is among the most nostalgic of all the countries in the sample, with 60 percent of respondents saying that life was better back in the day.
- Similarly, most of Latin America is far more free than it was during the late 1960s. And yet five of the 10 most pessimistic countries in the sample are from that part of the world (Peru, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela). Chile was the only Latin American country polled that thought life was better now than 50 years ago.
Views of the current economy are a strong indicator of whether people say life for people like them is better today than it was 50 years ago, even when controlling for the demographic factors of income, education, gender and age. Indeed, across the countries analyzed, people with positive views of the current economy are 30 percentage points more likely than those with negative views to say life has improved for people like them.