Young people are more optimistic about their future, the future of their country, and the future of the world than older people.

This is according to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Goalkeepers Global Youth Poll, an opinion poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs.

The poll surveyed adults and young people in 15 countries, asking for their outlook on their personal lives, challenges for their communities, and the direction of their countries. Data were collected from more than 40 000 respondents ages 12 and older in higher-income countries (Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, the US, and Saudi Arabia) and lower- and middle-income countries (Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, and Russia), based on World Bank rankings.

Levels of optimism are highest in lower- and middle-income countries, with young people (ages 12-24) in these countries being the most optimistic group across all measures.

The poll also found that young people in these countries are more likely to believe they can affect the way their countries are governed and that their generation will have a more positive impact on the world than their parents’ generation.

In line with this year’s Goalkeepers Data Report released last week and co-authored and edited by Bill and Melinda Gates, the poll results suggest that decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease is being felt in lower- and middle-income countries.

Since 2000, the number of people living in extreme poverty has declined by more than 1 billion. However, rapid population growth in the poorest countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, is putting future progress at risk.

This year’s report makes the case that investing in young people, particularly in their health and education, will be critical to unlocking productivity and innovation, and continuing to drive progress.

Additional notable findings from the Goalkeepers Global Youth Poll include:

* People in lower- and middle-income countries are far more likely to agree with the statement: “My generation will have a more positive impact on the world than my parents” (63%), compared with people in higher-income countries (39%). In both groups of countries, young people are more likely to agree with this statement than older people.

* A total of 79% of 12- to 24-year-olds in lower- and middle-income countries say they are optimistic about the future of the world, compared with half in higher-income countries.

* Of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals), ending poverty (33%), improving education (31%), and accessing jobs (27%) are the top priorities that people across age groups and regions think leaders should focus on.

* In higher-income countries, ending poverty (29%), addressing climate change (24%), improving education (21%), and ending conflicts (21%) are the top priorities.

* In lower- and middle-income countries, improving education (41%), ending poverty (37%), and accessing jobs (32%) are the top priorities.

* Across lower-, middle-, and higher-income countries, women are more likely than men to agree with the statement: “Life is better for men and boys than women and girls.” The difference is more pronounced in higher-income countries, where 49% of women agreed versus 37% of men. In lower- and medium-income countries, 45% of women agreed versus 43% of men.