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Credit Suisse Progress Barometer: The pressure for progress on sustainability and equality transcends nations

The second Progress Barometer measures the desire for progress in 16 countries.

The Credit Suisse Progress Barometer, published today for the second time, provides an insight into the desire for progress among the populations of 16 nations around the globe. The Barometer suggests a negative correlation between the pressure for progress in a country and its degree of economic development – with nations such as Brazil, India and South Africa displaying a far greater thirst for progress than people in mature economies like Switzerland, Australia and the US. The survey results also highlight sustainability and equality as two global issues where the desire for progress transcends borders.

Despite the heterogeneous nature of the countries surveyed, a homogenous picture emerges in terms of overall perspectives on progress among the different populations, who display a similar readiness to embrace change in economic, social and political matters and express support for innovation.

At the same time, the Barometer shows that the pressure for progress is greatest in emerging countries, with Brazil (scoring +33 on a scale of -100 to +100) leading the way, followed by nations such as India and South Africa (both +19). At the other end of the scale, the UK (+5), Russia (+3), Australia (+2) and the US (+1) have a lower desire for progress. Switzerland’s population appears to favor a slowdown or reversal in progress, as it moves into negative territory (-4) on the scale. This negative correlation may partly reflect the fact that nations that already enjoy a good standard of living are less eager to challenge the status quo, according to study director Cloé Jans at gfs.bern.

Desire for progress is greatest in the area of ‘Economy’
In terms of the individual topics assessed, the Barometer shows that the desire for progress is greatest in the area ‘Economy’, with a particular emphasis on sustainable technologies and e-mobility (+40). The researchers explained that the focus on sustainability transcends borders, especially when there is an interplay between sustainability and technology. The desire among the respondents for greater investment in renewables and energy transition echoes this trend. In the area of ‘Economy’, the demand for greater investment in education (+38) is another area where the desire for progress clearly goes beyond borders – demonstrating the importance of this issue for humanity.

In the area ‘Society’, a clear desire for progress on equality emerges – reflected by both the demand for the increased provision of public childcare (+36) and calls for improvements in gender equality (+33). There is also a desire for improvements in work/life balance (+29). Meanwhile, ‘Politics’ is the area that experiences the lowest overall desire for change among respondents in the 16 nations.

Desire for progress – top 10 topics:

  1. e-mobility
  2. Further education
  3. Expansion of public childcare
  4. Gender equality
  5. Work/life balance
  6. Free trade
  7. Underground transport
  8. Tax money for research
  9. Social media power
  10.  Development aid

Political polarization and disinformation are problem areas
The Progress Barometer also identifies areas where the populations surveyed would prefer to see a deceleration or reversal of the rate of progress. Here, increasing political polarization (-16) is the topic where participants would most like to see a slowdown – followed by disinformation (-15). It appears that survey respondents are seeking greater credibility – both in the political arena, where they want to see pragmatic solutions rather than power struggles, and in the media landscape at a time when the prevalence of ‘fake news’ is growing. Outsourcing (-12) is another area where participants overwhelmingly want to see a slowdown in current developments.

In a further dimension of this year’s Barometer, participants across the 16 nations were invited to share their views on whether their country has tended to improve or deteriorate in specific areas over the last decade. According to the findings of the survey, sustainable technologies, infrastructure in cities, and inventiveness and ingenuity are the areas where the largest improvements were identified. In contrast, deteriorations were most visible in the areas of social security, national unity, and the protection of privacy over the last ten years, according to the participants.

Urs Rohner, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Credit Suisse, stated: “We initiated the Progress Barometer in 2018 to gauge the pulse of progress in Switzerland, commemorating the 200th anniversary of Credit Suisse’s founder and entrepreneur Alfred Escher. The second barometer with its expanded scope provides an even more differentiated picture of the hopes and concerns surrounding progress and their connection with economic development.”

Commenting on the desire for progress on e-mobility, Soumitra Dutta, Professor of Management at Cornell University, explained: “There is a growing focus on sustainability around the world and the trend towards alternative energy sources is part of this global trend. Electric vehicles represent part of the shift towards alternative energy sources. I believe the growth of e-mobility is also symbolic of the advance of digital technologies, which are transforming all sectors of the economy. People increasingly realize that the future economic development of their country – and therefore their own wellbeing – are directly linked to the successful launch of digital technologies.”

The Progress Barometer – a member of the Credit Suisse family of barometers
Launched in 2018 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Credit Suisse’s pioneering founder Alfred Escher, the Progress Barometer gauges the public’s desire for progress in the areas of Economy, Society and Politics. The Barometer, which originally focused on Switzerland, has this year been extended to include 15 further countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, the US. The findings are based on a survey of 1,000 voters in each nation. More than 16,000 participants were therefore asked whether they would like to see the rate of progress in their homeland accelerate or slow down. Their views were captured using a scale from -100 (= progress should decelerate) to +100 (= progress should accelerate).

A ‘progress wheel’ is used to evaluate attitudes towards progress: Respondents were asked whether they would prefer to see the rate of progress slow down or accelerate a number of economic, political and social trends.

The detailed results of the study, including infographics, as well as individual country reports and a description of the survey methodology used, can be found at:

A discussion of the Progress Barometer can be found on Twitter under the hashtag #ProgressBarometer.