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American teens feel great about their future
Their parents, not so much
 
Spring breaaaaaak!
Spring breaaaaaak! (Courtesy Shutterstock)

American teenagers think they're set for the good life, according to new data released Friday.

The Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll shows that 54 percent of 13- to 18-year-olds think it's better to be a teenager today than when their parents were growing up. On top of that, 45 percent of teens believe that when they grow up, they'll have more opportunity to get ahead than their parents' generation, while just 24 percent think they'll have less opportunity.

Their sunshiny outlook stands in sharp contrast to that of their parents, for whom the future is quite bleak. Of adults surveyed, 68 percent believe when today's children will be less financially secure as adults, and have a poorer chance of holding a steady job. Furthermore, they think their kids will have a slimmer chance of owning a home without too much debt than their own generation.

And their outlook just gets gloomier from there. PR Newswire explains:

American adults say that opportunities for a quality education, access to health care, fair treatment, adequate play time, and sufficient love and attention are accessible to some, but are not guaranteed for the average American child. [PR Newswire]

Adults also got personal, saying they believe the next generation will display less patriotism, worth ethic, and civic responsibility than today's adults.

Meanwhile, 79 percent of adults said childhood was better when they were growing up, while 75 percent said it was better to be a parent when they were growing up than it is now. "Some of this surely reflects the primal instinct to remember the past through rose-colored glasses; adults have been lamenting the corruption of youth throughout human history," says Ronald Brownstein at National Journal.

But the overwhelming consensus in the survey that family life was easier for earlier generations also seems to braid together two distinct, if intertwined, concerns: a more conservative lament about eroding values, and a liberal unease over constricting economic opportunity. [National Journal]

So, when it comes to economic opportunity, are adults overly pessimistic about their children's future? Or are kids just displaying their sweet naivete?

Economic projections that far ahead are famously unreliable, but the Congressional Budget Office has crunched numbers to guesstimate the future course of some economic indicators.


(Congressional Budget Office)

Not bad! Real GDP will spike before leveling off by 2020, while the unemployment rate is supposed to eventually drop to near pre-recession levels. Meanwhile, inflation is expected to remain study as interest rates rise — a sign that the Federal Reserve will begin tapering after all?

So maybe the kids will be all right in the end.

 
Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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