News24 Wire
Wire Service
3 minute read
19 Jan 2020
2:08 pm

South Africans uncertain about the future, study finds

News24 Wire

Although working and non-working people are almost unanimous in their views, younger South Africans are more optimistic than older people.

Picture: Shutterstock

South Africans are viewing the year ahead with some trepidation, a recent study has found.

However, not everyone feels the same and although working and non-working people are almost unanimous in their views, younger South Africans are more optimistic than older people, and political party allegiance does make a difference to views on the future.

These are the main findings of an Ipsos Pulse of the People study which was conducted at the end of last year. Ipsos interviewed 3 590 randomly selected South African adults face-to-face in their homes and home languages.

The statement “In general, I feel optimistic about 2020” was put to respondents and they indicated whether they “strongly agree”, “agree”, “neither agree nor disagree”, “disagree” or “strongly disagree”.

According to the findings, almost half – 49% – of South Africans, 15 years and older, agreed or strongly agreed they view 2020 with optimism, while 16% disagreed or strongly disagreed. However, a large proportion – 35% – said they neither agreed nor disagreed, which showed a significant level of uncertainty among South Africans, according to Ipsos.


While this feeling of uncertainty is echoed by all age groups, more than six in every 10 (61%) of those 15 to 17 years of age indicated they felt optimistic about 2020. This contrasts with only 46% of those older than 50 sharing this sentiment.

“Against the background of South Africa’s increasing unemployment figures, one would assume that those who have a job should look at the future with more optimism than those who are not employed. However, this is not the case and those who work and those who do not work have largely similar feelings about 2020,” read Ipsos’ statement.

The political party an individual would choose to vote for if eligible had an influence on feelings of optimism about the year ahead, the study found.

Although the differences are not vast, ANC supporters are the most optimistic at 55%, followed by EFF supporters at 51%, IFP supporters at 50% and DA supporters at 45%.

Global predictions

The Pulse of the People study was only conducted on South Africans, but Ipsos also undertook a study in 28 countries around the world, probing feelings about optimism and predictions for 2020. This study is called Global Advisor Predictions 2020 and looked at world affairs, issues of society and culture, technology and comparisons between 2019 and 2020. It was undertaken online.

The respondents had the following global predictions for 2020:

77% of people globally think that temperatures will increase;

People are unsure about Donald Trump’s chances of being re-elected as US president – 36% think it is likely, 39% unlikely;

35% of people think it is likely that major stock markets around the world will crash in 2020;

A third (32%) of people globally think a major terrorist attack will happen in their country in 2020;

Just under a third (30%) expect that a major natural disaster will impact people in their area;

15% think that aliens will visit Earth.

Globally, 52% of people believe the economy will improve this year, while a comparable 56% of South Africans, who took part in the online survey, share this opinion.

Almost four out of five South Africans – 81% – believe 2019 was a bad year for South Africa, compared to 65% worldwide who believe this about their own country.

Two-thirds – 68% – of South Africans are also of the opinion that 2019 was a bad year for them and their families. However, 85% of online South Africans look forward to 2020 to be a better year than 2019 for them personally. This in contrast to feelings about the prospects for the country in general, expressed in the Pulse of the People study.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.