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 Germany 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 surveyed countries, Germany has a comparatively low desire for progress (Nr. 10 of 16) with the desire for progress in politics being particularly low.

Progress map Germany

Germany is one of those countries in this year’s Progress Barometer where there is a clear distinction between issues on which there is a desire to turn the dial back and issues where there is considerable desire for progress. Contrary to most other countries, where e-mobility is the top issue for progress, Germans want to see things to move fastest on the expansion of public childcare. The desire for greater more gender equality and gay rights also point to the desire for a (more) liberal society.

The transition from energy production based on nuclear and coal-fired power to more sustainable energy sources is of high priority to the German population. While around 40% of electricity in Germany is already generated from renewable energy (wind, sun, water or biomass), Germans want to see further progress in this direction. German voters are aware that infrastructure must be built to allow the production of more renewable energy and would like to see the provision of sufficient land for this purpose. Germany as a whole also appears to be ready to spend more taxpayers’ money on research aimed at strengthening the country in terms of innovation and as a location for investment.

Germans look for a job situation that gives them a sense of purpose in their work and – to a slightly lesser extent – look for individualization and self-fulfilment not only in their private life but also professionally. Within this context, they also embrace the idea of lifelong learning as something in which they would like to see more progress.


The fact that people are living longer (and therefore have to deal with increased deductions for old-age pensions) is not something they shy away from when it comes to moving the dial forward.

According to the German Federal Institute for Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Research (BBRS), rents for apartments rose by 4.4% in the first half of 2019 alone. This phenomenon is particularly noticeable in large cities. This year’s Progress Barometer shines a light on this problem, as it is the issue on which the desire to turn the dial back is greatest. In a similar context, the increasing urban-rural divide is also something where there is no desire for further progress.

While free trade is something that Germans embrace and where further progress is desired, they show a clear aversion to the relocation of production abroad. Consequently, people vote to uphold the status quo when it comes to the transition away from the manufacturing to a services-based society. Furthermore, the issue of reducing corporate taxes in order to make Germany more attractive for the relocation of companies is not something where there is any desire for further progress.

The current development of Germany’s political culture towards greater polarization is viewed critically. There is a desire for this process to be reversed – as there is also the continuing fragmentation of the media.

Desire for progress in Germany

The greatest willingness for progress is found in the economic sphere in Germany (index value of 10.2). Second comes the desire for progress on societal issues (index value of 5.5). When it comes to the political arena,

Germans are comfortable with sticking to the status quo on this point (index value of 2.1). In terms of its overall readiness for progress, Germany ranks tenth among the other 16 countries.

When asked how Germans themselves would rate progress in their country, 56% are of the opinion that their country is currently very progressive or somewhat progressive when it comes to economic issues, 41% think the same of progress in society, whereas only 29% think political progress has been made – this is one of the lowest values of all 16 countries with only the UK, Chile and Japan showing a lower proportion.

Future prospects

Although – or maybe precisely because – Germans are amongst the people most satisfied with their current life (65% completely satisfied), the proportion of respondents who are pessimistic for the future is above average (22%). A majority (65%) are convinced that their children will not be as well off as they are now.

Battle against climate change

Environmental issues are a hot topic in Germany: 80% of German voters very much or rather agree with the statement that people should live more in harmony with nature. A more environmentally friendly economy that focuses more on sustainability enjoys a high level of support in Germany (76%).

Social cohesion

Germany has been shocked by an increase in ideologically motivated violence and hate crime in the last years and months. A clear majority of 81% of Germans, however, make it perfectly clear that they feel conflicts have to be resolved without weapons, and 70% agree that good social change means greater tolerance of minorities. There is, however, a section of the population that thinks weapons are a feasible option (12% ) and does not feel that tolerance of minorities is to be desirable (21%)

Assessment of past 10 years

Germans have quite a negative view of developments in their country over the past 10 years. They see a negative development in social security (61%) and national unity (57%), feel that the population has less say on political matters (53%) and perceive a deterioration in national security (51%). Economic relations are not as stable as they once were (44%) and rural infrastructure has been neglected (49%). A deterioration is also noted when it comes to the protection of privacy (63%). On the other hand – and in accordance with most other countries – Germans feel that improvement has been made in the area of sustainable technologies (55%).

Methodological information

on behalf of: Credit Suisse

basic population: Germany 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, Germany (N=1018)

margin of error: at 50/50 (and 95 percent probability) Germany (± 3.1)

quota characteristics: age/gender interlocked

weighing: age/gender

survey duration: average survey time in minutes in Germany = 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 Germany:

Progress items economy:

service-based society: Germany 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 Germany.
influx foreign experts: Germany 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 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 independant media: There are fewer and fewer independent media outlets in Germany.
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./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.
price increase in cities: People are moving from the countryside to the city. Therefore the rental fees are increasing.

Progress items politics:

increase in pension deductions: Wage deductions for pensions are increasing because people are living longer.
dependence on international agreements: When it comes to its global market position, Germany 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.
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.
land for clean energy: To organize the production of energy in a more sustainable way, enough land needs to be provided./In order to make energy production more renewable, sufficient land must be made available for wind and solar energy.
cultural heterogenity increases: In Germany an increasing number of people with different kind of cultural backgrounds and different life plans are living together.
decisions are being made by EU: Importand decisions that affect Germany are being made by the EU.