South Africans are uncertain as we take on the new year, study finds_1

In 2020, South Africans are expecting “much of the same” when it comes to challenges such as load shedding, high unemployment, political squabbling and economic woes. It’s no surprise, then, that a new study has found that people are viewing the year ahead with trepidation.


However, younger South Africans are more optimistic than their older compatriots and political party allegiance seems to make only a small difference to the views that people hold.


This is according to the latest Pulse of the People study released by market research company Ipsos. Researchers interviewed more than 3 500 people at the end of 2019 to find out how they felt about the new year.

A significant level of uncertainty


While 49% of interviewees said they viewed 2020 with optimism, 16% did not and a significant proportion (35%) was unsure. Ipsos said this indicates a significant level of uncertainty among South Africans.


Those aged 50 or older were the most uncertain (36%), followed by people aged 35 to 49 years (33%). However, more than six in every 10 (61%) of those aged 15 to 17 said they felt optimistic about 2020.  This contrasts with only 46% of those older than 50 who were optimistic.  

Employment status does not influence optimism


One of the surprising findings is that working status does not influence optimism.


“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, say the researchers.


“However, this is not the case and those who work and those who do not work have largely similar feelings about 2020.”


The political party an individual would choose to vote for had an influence on feelings of optimism about the year ahead, although the differences are fairly small.


ANC supporters were the most optimistic at 55%, followed by EFF supporters at 51%, IFP supporters at 50% and DA supporters at 45%.

Global predictions 2020


The Pulse of the People study was conducted only in South Africa, but around the same time Ipsos also undertook an online study in 28 countries (including SA), probing feelings of optimism and predictions for 2020.  


Four in five online South African adults (80%) felt it was likely that global temperatures would increase in 2020, as do much of the world: 77% of people in the 33 countries polled thought average global temperatures would increase in 2020. Citizens of Saudi Arabia (54%) were not as convinced about temperature increases as the rest of the world. 


Rising temperatures were also a key prediction for 2019. At the end of 2018, 78% of people around the world believed average global temperatures would increase in 2019.


In addition, more than three-quarters of online South Africans (77%) felt it was likely that there would be large-scale public unrest such as protests or riots in South Africa in 2020 to protest the way the country is being run. 


This is 21% above the global average of 56%. Only Colombia (82%), Chile (82%) and France (79%) were higher than South Africa in predicting unrest in their countries for 2020.

What won’t happen in South Africa in 2020?


Ipsos also asked South Africans about things they thought wouldn’t happen in 2020. Unfortunately for fans of “little green men”, 74% of respondents thought it unlikely that aliens will visit this year. 


When it comes to self-driving cars becoming a common sight on our roads in 2020, 61% of people believed this to be unlikely.