The Credit Suisse Progress Barometer measures the desire for progress in society, politics and economy around the globe.
For this year’s edition, 16,000 citizens in 16 different countries on six continents (all except Antarctica) were interviewed and asked to share their views.
The questionnaire for the Progress Barometer was developed and launched in Switzerland in 2018 and taken to a global level in 2019. gfs.bern worked with local experts to ensure that the concept and questionnaire were adapted to reflect the context and characteristics of each country individually.
At the heart of the concept are 30 statements referring to 10 aspects of progress in society, politics and the economy in each case. For each of these aspects respondents were asked to indicate whether – in their opinion – the wheels of progress should move much faster (indicating desire for progress) or whether they should stop and be reversed (indicating aversion to progress).
This index allows opinions on progress within a country to be compared by looking at the areas of politics, society and the economy separately. Moreover, it also provides the opportunity to compare the 16 countries included in the study, thus helping us understand the readiness for progress around the world.
The process of adapting the questionnaire to each country brought to light how subjective progress as a notion is and how dependent it is on personal opinion and cultural background. Progress in one particular area can be viewed very favourably in one country, whereas in another country it might be seen as quite problematic. Progress is also not always seen as positive. The political zeitgeist, for example, suggests an increase in political polarization for the future – a development that many citizens would definitely prefer to reverse.
In addition to collecting information on where the citizens want their country to go in the future, the Progress Barometer also looks at the past and how citizens evaluate the changes their country has seen in the last ten years.
This cockpit is a portrait of how progress is seen in Australia in 2019. Readiness for progress is discussed for the areas of politics, society and the economy – as well for the country overall. The 30 items used to calculate the progress indices are displayed in a progress map showing readiness for progress on the x-axsis and the unanimity with which this progress is demanded on the y-axsis.
For methodological information, please consult the info box at the end of the cockpit.
Over all the 16 surveyed countries, Australia has a comparatively low desire for progress (Nr. 13 of 16) with the desire for progress in politics being particularly low.
As a vast country with only a marginally developed rail network, Australia is highly dependent on road transport and mobility– the future of which lies in electric mobility. The progress map for Australia now shows that the country is ready and willing to embrace this future. People clearly want things to move faster when it comes to maintaining or even expanding mobility, whilst at the same time reducing the emission of greenhouse gases that are harming the climate. on the other hand, tackling the issue of climate change via a newly introduced fuel tax is not something Australia greets with enthusiasm; in this respect, the country would rather turn the dial back.
Australians also clearly wish their nation to be even more progressive when it comes to values touching on a person’s freedom for self-realization. Equality (gender equality and gay rights) as well as issues concerning the individual working environment (expansion of public childcare, finding purpose and meaning in one’s work and the idea of lifelong learning) are things on which Australians would like to see things move faster.
While Australians want to see more taxpayers’ money spent on research, they would also prefer to turn the dial wheel when it comes to the influx of foreign experts into the country, the prospect of traditional professions being made redundant by digitalization and the country’s move away from manufacturing to a services-based economy. Accordingly, Australians are particularly averse to outsourcing certain aspects of production abroad, this being the development where the nation would like to turn the dial back most of all.
Aspects of globalization in general seem to be met with certain reservations: while Australia wants less dependence on international agreements and prefers not have migration transform their society, there is also a clear desire for progress in terms of allowing more free trade. People are also willing to spend more money on development aid.
In the realm of politics and public opinion, Australia faces the same challenges as many other nations: Political polarization is on the increases and, despite a high degree of trust in the media compared with other countries, the fake news issue is leaving its mark. On both political polarization and the disappearance of independent media, Australia would like to turn the dial back. There is a clear desire for greater compromise in politics.
According to the Census of 2016, two-thirds of Australia’s population live in its cities, leaving the vast heartland of the country mostly – and increasingly – unpopulated. The increase in this urban-rural divide is something on which Australia would like to turn the dial back. Accordingly, the fact that this growth of cities and infrastructure implies the redevelopment of more and more agricultural land is something that makes Australians quite averse to progress.
Compared to the other 16 countries surveyed in this year’s Progress Barometer, the desire for progress in Australia on certain aspects of society, the economy and politics is offset by the aversion to further development in other areas.
On average, this conflict leads to an overall desire for the status quo to be maintained – particularly in the area of politics and the economy. When it comes to societal issues, however, Australians have a slight desire for progress.
Australias self- assessment of progress
When asked, how Australians themselves would rate progress in their country, 51% are of the opinion that their country is currently very progressive or somewhat progressive when it comes to social issues, while 47% think the same of economic progress and 32% think political progress has been made. In terms of the nation’s self-assessment of progress, the ranking of the three areas correspond to the index calculated from the 30 progress items.
19% of Australians see their personal future as quite bleak – as opposed to 78% who view it with some optimism or mixed feelings. Regarding the prospects of the next generation, Australians are more pessimistic. A majority (59%) tends to agree that there is a risk their children will not be as well off as the respondents themselves. And while they would consider themselves being part of Australia’s middle class, they are afraid that their social and economic status is increasingly under pressure. Only 25% of Australians are very or quite confident that they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years
Roughly half of all Australians (47%) are fully satisfied with their life, while a quarter of the population is completely dissatisfied (22%)
54% agree with the notion that new technologies will help solve major problems. While this is a slight majority, Australians are still more sceptical when it comes to the power of innovation than most other countries (Germany, Japan and Switzerland being even more sceptical than Australia)
While Australia is not enthusiastic about the introduction of a petrol tax, there are still clear signs of the wish for more action in dealing with climate change: 70% agree that the state needs to do more to stop companies from polluting the environment; 72% also think that the economy has been too one-sided in its focus on growth while sustainability has been ignored.
According to Australians, only a small minority is getting richer while everyone else is missing out on the benefits of growth (77%). Consequently, the state should do more to reduce income inequality between rich and poor (61% tend to agree).
on behalf of: Credit Suisse
basic population: Australian citizens with the right to vote
fieldwork: Cint AB
surveying: online panel
survey period: 20.09.2019-18.10.2019
sample size: min. 1000 per country, Australia (N=1016)
margin of error: at 50/50 (and 95 percent probability) Australia (± 3.1)
quota characteristics: age/gender interlocked
survey duration: average survey time in minutes in Australia = 17
Progress Index and Items:
Respondents were asked the following question: „For each of the areas below, assess the current development and imagine this development as a wheel that turns. For each case, decide whether the development should be accelerated or reversed.“ Ten statements asking about a development in society, economy and politics each were surveyed in all 16 countries. The adaption of these items to best suit the countries context were made in cooperation with local experts.
The following items were surveyed in Australia:
Progress in Economy:
service-based society: Australia produces fewer goods and is turning into a service-based society.
digitalization: Digitization/robotization makes our working lives easier and more efficient, but it also makes traditional professions redundant.
free trade: The trade of goods is getting freer and more global.
lifelong learning: You have to do regular on-the-job training in order to keep up.
production outsourced: Many aspects of production are moved abroad.
low corporate taxes: Because of low corporate tax rates, many international companies move their head offices to Australia.
influx foreign experts: Australia needs more and more experts from abroad.
development of agricultural land: Growing cities and major industrial and infrastructure projects mean that more and more agricultural land is being developed/Major infrastructure projects and ideas means that more and more cultivated land is built on.
e-mobility: Electric cars allow even more individual mobility with reduced emissions of climate-damaging substances./Mobility with electrically powered cars allows even more individual mobility with reduced emissions of climate-damaging substances.
tax money for research: To strengthen Germany as a research location, more taxpayers money is spent on research.
Progress in Society:
gender equality: Gender equality is promoted in all areas of life.
urban-rural contrast: People living in big cities and in small towns in the rural areas have fewer and fewer interests in common.
gay rights: Gay couples increasingly enjoy equal rights in all areas of life.
fewer independent media: There are fewer and fewer independent media outlets in Australia.
expansion public childcare: Public daycare and childcare services are being expanded.
professionalization voluntary work: Many areas of society that used to function on a voluntary basis are now being professionalized.
migration transforms society: Immigration transforms the composition of societies./Migration from rual to urban areas transforms the composition of cities.(CHINA)/Transmigration transforms the composition of societies: sense of purpose in work: People increasingly look for passion and meaning in their work.
introduction petrol tax: Additional taxes on petrol are demanded worldwide in order to slow down climate change.
increase in development aid: Australia’s contributions to global development cooperation are increasing.
increase life expectancy: Advances in medicine mean that we are healthier into old age, but at the same time we’ll have to work for longer.
Progress in Politics:
dependence on international agreements: When it comes to its global market position, Australia is increasingly dependent on international agreements with other countries.
individualization and self fulfillment: With increasing individualization, social pressure diminishes and everyone can live by their own values.
regulation increase: More and more everyday things are becoming more strictly regulated./The state ensures that many parts of life and work are clearly regulated.
transition to knowledge based society: Australia is turning into a knowledge-based society and is spending less on agriculture and instead more on universities and higher education.
accessability trough social media: People can organise themselves spontaneously via the internet and force policy-makers to become more accessible to the public.
polarization: Politics is becoming increasingly polarised and cooperation between the parties more difficult.
media diversity vs. reliability: While more and more sources of information are available to form a political opinion, the facts become less important.
political compromise: In order to overcome political paralysis and getting things done, politicians must compromise more.