Survey: The Worst Decade in 50 Years

When asked what they thought about the past decade, Americans by a 2-1 margin rated it negatively. In contrast, they rated every other decade since the 1960s positively.

The results could be at least in part due to rose-colored glasses.

"The passage of time may affect the way people view these historical periods," said analysts at the Pew Research Center, which conducted the survey.

There was no holding back among the 779 U.S. adults polled. The Top 10 words most used to describe the decade were downhill, change, good, poor, decline, disappointing, turbulent/turmoil, chaos/chaotic, not good, bad. Nearly making the Top 10 were disaster and greed.

Regardless, better times lie ahead, most U.S residents believe.

Though 50 percent viewed this decade negatively (with 27 percent seeing it as positive and the rest having no firm view either way), 59 percent figure the next decade will be better.

In particular, Baby Boomers were found in the survey to recall past decades fondly, being more likely than younger adults to see this decade as a bad one and also more likely to see the 1960s and '70s as good stretches.

Other research has found that boomers — struggling with poor health, big mortgages and a lousy economy — are generally not as happy as other generations.

Boomers were also less likely than younger and older people to say the next decade will be better.

Amid the gloom, technological innovations got high marks. The percent of respondents who said the following things have changed life for the better:

  • Cell phones: 69 percent
  • Green products: 68 percent
  • E-mail: 65 percent
  • The Internet: 65 percent

Overall, the best-rated decade of the past five? The 1980s.

Live Science Staff
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