How Americans believe the world will end

Jamie BallardData Journalist
March 18, 2020, 3:00 PM GMT+0

It’s the end of the world as we know it - and many Americans say they’re prepared.

Nearly three in 10 (29%) US adults think it’s likely that there will be an apocalyptic disaster in their lifetime. And 17 percent of Americans say that they have an apocalypse survival plan for their family.

In a YouGov survey conducted in late February, at a time when several dozen cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the US, nearly one in five (19%) Americans said they believed a global pandemic was the most likely cause of the apocalypse.

An equal number (19%) pointed to climate change, while slightly fewer (17%) said the cause of the apocalypse would be a nuclear war.

Those with an apocalypse survival plan are especially likely to say that a global pandemic (22%) is the likely cause, though 18 percent of this group suspects it will be climate change.

If the apocalypse strikes, most Americans are optimistic about their odds of survival - at least for a few days.

A plurality (42%) of US adults think they would survive a week or more, while 15 percent give themselves “almost a week,” and 29% estimate they would last just a few days. Another 13 percent of Americans say that they would only survive one day once the apocalypse strikes.

Men (49%) are considerably more likely than women (36%) to believe they would survive a week or more.

How do Americans believe they will fare compared to others in their community?

About one-third (32%) believe that they would survive longer than most of the people in their community. A plurality (38%) say they would survive about as long as everyone else. About one in eight (12%) think they would not survive as long as most others in their area.

In keeping with other findings in this survey, men (44%) are more than twice as likely as women (20%) to believe that they would survive longer than the average person in their community in the event of an apocalypse.

See the full survey results and sign up here to get topical data in your inbox with the YouGov Daily newsletter.

Related: COVID-19 report: How the virus is affecting everything, from politics to brands

Methodology: Total unweighted sample size was 1,225 US adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (ages 18+). Interviews were conducted online between February 27 - 28, 2020. For specific analysis regarding those with an apocalypse survival plan, please email

Image: Getty

Explore more data & articles