Credit Suisse Progress Barometer 2019

Credit Suisse

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 China 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.

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Over all the 16 countries surveyed, China has a comparatively high desire for progress (2nd of 16) with the desire for progress in economy being particularly high.

Progress map China

In China, the willingness to make progress is considerable in all areas, but it is particularly pronounced when it comes to economic issues, as illustrated by the cluster of blue dots in the upper right corner of the map below. In China, education is seen as an important factor in progress – thus lifelong learning ranks on top when it comes to progress issues. Another area where clear desire for progress is seen is investment into research and development.

China is the world’s largest export country. It is therefore only fitting that the Chinese want to see progress when it comes to a free and open market, as it clearly benefits from international trade. People are less enthusiastic that global interconnectedness also leads to increased dependence on international agreements. China is also a pioneer in the dissemination of electric mobility and one of the key drivers of current developments in this area worldwide. The population clearly wishes to progress further in this respect.

The rapid growth of the Chinese economy and society in the last decades has left its mark with a substantial amount of agricultural land being used for construction each year. This and the widening urban-rural divide are the areas where the desire for further progress is least pronounced.

Demographic challenges due to ageing are particularly pronounced in China with the combined effect of China’s one-child policy and a significant increase in life expectancy. The growing cost of retirement (increase in deductions for old-age pensions) and the rise in the putative age of retirement prompt only a slight desire for more progress.

China is less progressive when it comes to further promoting gay rights, but is quite willing to make progress on gender equality. The promotion of private and public childcare on the other hand is not a priority issue when it comes to the desire for greater progress.

Desire for progress in China

China shows the greatest willingness for progress in the area of the economy, where it comes second behind Brazil in the ranking of all 16 countries surveyed.

While China’s readiness for progress when it comes to the economy is not quite as marked as that of Brazil, the country is still one of the most willing to embrace progress in this area and also in the area of societal issues.

When asked how the Chinese themselves would rate progress in their country, 86% are of the opinion that China is currently very progressive or somewhat progressive in terms of economic issues,  83% think the same of social progress, whereas 76% rate China progressive in terms of the current development of its politics.

Future prospects

Almost 9 out of 10 Chinese are generally optimistic about their own future (89%). The growing middle class in China and the resulting improvements in living conditions certainly have an impact here. A growing middle class is linked to strong social mobility. Compared to other countries the proportion of Chinese respondents who think their position as members of the country’s middle class is under pressure, is relatively low (52%). Unlike most other countries surveyed, the Chinese are also clearly not worried for the future status of their children. Only 28% are afraid that their children might not be as well off as the respondents themselves. And 74% of respondents are very or rather confident that they have enough money to live comfortably during their retirement.

Assessment of past 10 years

Over the past 10 years, a majority of Chinese feel an improvement in all areas surveyed – most markedly in urban (78%) and rural (70%) infrastructure, sustainable technologies (73%), national unity (74%) and social security (74%), but also in the possibility of political participation (57%) and the stability of economic relations (62%). The proportion of people who feel the protection of privacy has improved is smallest (52%).

Social cohesion

In China, as in all other countries surveyed, a majority of respondents agree that only a small minority of citizens is getting richer, while no one else is benefiting from growth (63%). Compared to the other 16 countries surveyed, the number of Chinese people who want their government to intervene and correct this issue is quite high (81%).

Battle against climate change

66% of the Chinese population wants more government intervention to prevent companies from polluting the environment. This figure is relatively low compared to other countries, even if a majority is in favor. A comparatively high proportion of 54% thinks instead that the solution to save the climate lies in new technologies.

Methodological information

on behalf of: Credit Suisse

basic population: Chinese 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, China (N=1040)

margin of error: at 50/50 (and 95 percent probability) China (± 3)

quota characteristics: age/gender interlocked

weighing: age/gender

survey duration: average survey time in minutes in China = 16

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 China:

Progress items economy:

service-based society: China 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 China.
influx foreign experts: China needs more and more experts from abroad.
tax money for research: To strengthen China as a research location, more taxpayers‘ money is spent on research.
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.

Progress items 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 China.
expansion public childcare: Public daycare and childcare services are being expanded.
increase life expectancy: Advances in medicine means that we are healthier into old age, but at the same time we’ll have to work for longer.
migration transforms society: Immigration transforms the composition of societies./Migration from rual to urban areas transforms the composition of cities./Transmigration transforms the composition of societies.
sense of purpose in work: People increasingly look for passion and meaning in their work.
swarm intelligence: Thanks to the internet, society as a whole gathers more knowledge than individual inventors or experts.
NGOs build communities: Organizations like NGOs that are depending on private donations help to build communities.

Progress items politics:

underground transport: Ideas have been floated about underground traffic (Metro, Cargo Sous Terrain) to ensure that China retains its beautiful landscape./Some have suggested shifting transportation to an underground road or rail network to ensure that Japan retains ist beautiful landscape.
increase in pension deductions: Wage deductions for pensions are increasing because people are living longer.
increase in development aid: China’s contributions to global development cooperation are increasing.
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: China 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.
media diversity vs. reliability: While more and more sources of information are available to form a political opinion, the facts become less important.
representation minorities in government: There are better opportunities for promotions for non CCP-officials, intellectual and  ethnic minotiries as well as females inside the government.