Americans are narrowly hopeful about the future of the United States over the next 30 years but more pessimistic when the focus turns to specific issues, including this country’s place in the world, the cost of health care and the strength of the U.S. economy.
Overall, six-in-ten adults predict that that the U.S. will be less important in the world in 2050. While most key demographic groups share this view, it is more widely held by whites and those with more education. About two-thirds of whites (65%) forecast a diminished role in the world for the U.S. in 30 years, a view shared by 48% of blacks and Hispanics. Roughly seven-in-ten adults with a bachelor’s or higher degree (69%) see a lesser role internationally for America. By contrast, six-in-ten of those with some college education (but no bachelor’s degree) and 52% of those with less education are as pessimistic about the country’s future world stature.
The current partisan political debate over the country’s proper role in the world is mirrored in these results. About two-thirds of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic (65%), but closer to half of Republicans and Republican leaners (52%), think America will be a diminished force in the world in 2050. These differences are even greater among partisans at opposite ends of the ideological scale: 72% of self-described liberal Democrats but 49% of conservative Republicans say the U.S. will be less important internationally in 30 years.
As they see the importance of the U.S. in the world receding, many Americans expect the influence of China will grow. About half of all adults (53%) expect that China definitely or probably will overtake the United States as the world’s main superpower in the next 30 years. As with U.S. standing in the world, large party differences emerge on this question. About six-in-ten Democrats (59%) but just under half of Republicans (46%) predict that China will supplant the U.S. as the world’s main superpower.