A survey in Africa suggests two-thirds of Ghanaians think the government reflects the will of the people, while Nigerians and Zimbabweans feel especially pessimistic about their own countries.
The study by international polling agency, Globescan, also indicates that more than a third of Africans feel worse off this year compared with last.
In Zimbabwe, just 3% of those asked think life is getting better.
In Nigeria, 75% of people think the country is heading in the wrong direction, with 66% thinking it is more corrupt than a year ago.
Remarkably, another survey conducted by the New Scientist last year, suggested Nigerians might also be the happiest people in the world.
The Globescan survey also shows that most Africans do not believe that their national governments reflect the will of the people, and have more trust in their religious leaders.
There is some optimism in Kenya, where the vast majority of Kenyans believe corruption is declining, and two-thirds of Ghanaians think their government reflects the will of the people.
However, 80% of Zimbabweans and 66% of South Africans feel their countries are more corrupt than a year ago.
One thousand people took part in the study in each of eight countries: Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe.
More than 90% of those asked, see Aids and the spread of diseases as serious problems for them and their families
Half of Africans asked, feel the world is going in the wrong direction. They feel positive about the United States but negative about trade, Aids, jobs and poverty