We introduce a future orientation index to quantify the degree to which Internet users worldwide seek more information about years in the future than years in the past. We analyse Google logs and find a striking correlation between the country’s GDP and the predisposition of its inhabitants to look forward.
The analysis described here shows that the value of this index for 45 countries in 2010 is correlated with a key economic indicator, per capita GDP. Our results are consistent with the intriguing possibility that there is a relationship between the economic success of a country and the information seeking behaviour of its citizens online. We highlight two potential explanations for such a relationship.