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Wealthier countries are more interested in the future, Nature finds

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A new study from Nature shows that poorer countries are more interested in the past than their more wealthy counterparts.

Nature future orientation index
Nature future orientation index

According to a new study from Nature, citizens in poorer countries are more focused on the past than the future, and the inverse holds true for richer countries. The study compared Google Trends results to the per-capita gross domestic product of 45 different countries to come up with what it calls the "future orientation index." It looked at instances in 2010 when users would search for the terms 2009 and 2011, and found a "strong tendency" for countries with a higher per-capita GDP to be more interested in the year ahead, as opposed to the year previous.

According to the authors of the study, the results point to "a relationship between the economic success of a country and the information seeking behaviour of its citizens online." However, since the study only uses two different factors, it provides a somewhat incomplete picture — future iterations of the index could be expanded to include additional indicators, including different social and economic factors. A more complete version could be used to provide a better understanding of how different people in disparate parts of the world use the internet.