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The first Credit Suisse Progress Barometer: The people of Switzerland want progress on social issues

To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Alfred Escher, Credit Suisse has launched its new Progress Barometer – a representative survey of the Swiss people to learn more about their attitudes regarding Switzerland's future viability

The Credit Suisse Progress Barometer, published today for the first time, shows that although Switzerland is already highly progressive, Swiss voters want to see faster progress in the areas of equal rights and education. However, they don’t want progress to undermine Switzerland's fundamental values. Visionary infrastructure projects enjoy widespread public support, provided that they also promise to solve political and economic problems.

The first Credit Suisse Progress Barometer reveals that the Swiss are largely in agreement about the key features of a progressive Switzerland. The Barometer gauged the views of 2,800 voters and 300 opinion leaders using a scale from -100 (= progress should slow down) to +100 (= the wheel of progress should be reinvented in order to accelerate progress). Overall, opinion leaders are more eager than the electorate to accelerate progress (+17.5 versus +3.5 index points) – and that applies across the economic, social and political arenas. This thirst for progress is particularly striking, given that Switzerland already ranks as the leading country for progress (+43.2 index points) based on a number of real economic indicators.

The respondents agree that progress must respect fundamental Swiss values: the "militia" model of civic engagement, media diversity, a consensus-oriented political system, local jobs and value creation, a relatively low level of regulation, and comprehensible political initiatives.

They especially want to see progress in the areas that make Switzerland an attractive location, such as education (lifelong learning), infrastructure and academic research, as well as favoring the continuation of low corporate tax rates.

The respondents are most eager to see social progress. In particular, they want to find new solutions to achieve gender equality (equal rights in general, as well as in the areas of childcare and gay rights).

They feel that visionary progress should be made in areas that allow Switzerland to build on its traditional capabilities and that form part of the national identity. The fact that underground traffic receives the highest ranking reflects Switzerland's self-confidence – as epitomized by Escher – when it comes to major construction projects and the belief that modern infrastructure can help solve the problems of population density in a prosperous society.

Didier Denat, Head of Corporate & Investment Banking Switzerland, stated: "The Progress Barometer shows that there is still very much a need for courageous ideas and entrepreneurial spirit in Switzerland today. At the same time, the population also attaches great importance to the preservation of Swiss values. We hope that the latest Credit Suisse Barometer will contribute to the public dialogue about the future of our country."

The seven most important finding

  1. Addressing the problem of traffic congestion and crowded trains: Survey respondents believe that the main area in which progress is needed is underground traffic. This is where the electorate as a whole and opinion leaders want to see the most progress. They also believe that the development of cultivated land needs to stop.
  2. Promoting equal rights: In the social sphere, the respondents are particularly concerned with issues of gender equality (equal rights in general, as well as in the areas of childcare and gay rights).
  3. More free media: When asked where they would most like to slow progress, the Swiss again focus on a social issue: the decline of independent media in Switzerland.
  4. More education: The respondents want Switzerland to invest more tax revenues in academic research, and they believe that there should be greater emphasis on lifelong learning – partly because Switzerland's educational resources are one of the factors that make the country an attractive location.
  5. Value creation at the local level: In the economic sphere, the Swiss would most like to see a decline in the trends toward offshoring – i.e. the transfer of jobs to third-party companies abroad – and the hiring of foreign skilled workers. Here, opinion leaders are much less eager to apply the brakes than voters in general.
  6. More technology: The majority of respondents would welcome further progress toward digitalization – which makes us more efficient but also eliminates certain traditional occupations. There is little opposition to the increased use of robots.
  7. Real economic progress: Based on a total of 31 real economic indicators, Switzerland ranks first when it comes to progress in the economy, society and politics compared to 35 other countries.1

The Progress Barometer – the newest member of the Credit Suisse family of barometers
The newest barometer was launched to coincide with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Credit Suisse’s founder Alfred Escher (1819-1882). It measures Switzerland's ability and willingness to make progress in the economy, society and politics, based on a survey of over 2,800 voters and 300 opinion leaders.

To measure the Swiss people's ambivalent attitudes toward progress, we used a ‘progress wheel’ to evaluate their responses. The respondents were asked whether they would prefer to slow down or accelerate a number of economic, political and social trends.

"The Progress Barometer is, in itself, a very progressive, groundbreaking instrument," stated study director Cloé Jans of gfs.bern. "For the first time, we have operationalized an abstract concept – 'progress' – using 30 statements to measure and analyze people's attitudes towards it." 

This perception of progress was then compared with an assessment by Credit Suisse's economists of Switzerland's progressivity in real economic terms relative to other countries. 

    The detailed results of the study, including infographics, and an exact description of the methodology used can be found at: www.credit-suisse.com/progressbarometer

A discussion of the 2018 Progress Barometer can be found on Twitter under the hashtag #fortschrittsbarometer.

1 Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States.