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 Japan 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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Of all 16 countries surveyed, Japan lies about mid-table in the ranking for willingness to embrace progress (9th of 16), the desire for progress being especially low when it comes to in politics.

Progress Map Japan

The different cultural background in Japan, which plays a role in the surveys, is especially evident. In no other country do respondents differ less between the various progress items than in Japan, which is why the progress map is difficult to read there.

In Japan, the focus of progress is on the economy and on societal issues. By contrast, people tend to be more interested in dialling back on politics. What is striking in Japan is that most items lie around the bottom of the y-axis, which means the level of indecision about the actual direction of progress is relatively high. Nevertheless, it appears that the willingness to see things moving faster is greatest in the areas of e-mobility and gender equality. In addition, there is a desire to encourage free trade as there is to support the access of foreign experts to the domestic labour market.

Over and above this, people are primarily interested in maintaining the status quo. This applies not least also to the transition of the labour market towards a society that is (even) more knowledge-based and to the idea that work should be meaningful in and of itself. Japan is also one of the few countries in which political polarization is not firmly identified as a development that needs to be reversed. By contrast, regulation in the country is viewed more critically.

Desire for progress in Japan

Over all aspects combined, Japanese want to turn the wheel of progress in their country forward slightly faster than in the past. In the ranking of all 16 surveyed countries, Japan is number nine in terms of readiness for Progress.

The desire to turn the wheel faster is most decisive in issues concerning the area of economy as well as in the area of society. In terms of the development of the area of politics, Japan wants to preserve the status quo.

44% of people in Japan see their country as socially progressive, while 34% consider the country’s economy to be progressive and only 28% take the same view of the country’s politics.

Future prospects

Exactly half of the population is completely satisfied with their current life today (50%). Only 14 % are completely dissatisfied. In terms of their personal future prospects, 38% are optimistic, whereas a majority has mixed feelings (41%) or expects it to be quite bleak (19%). The share of Chileans who would consider themselves part of the countrys middle class but fears for their future status is the second highest of all 16 countries (79%). Only 12 % of the respondents is at this point confident, that they will have enough ressources to live comfortably throughout their retirement years.

Assessment of past 10 years

The Japanese also have their reservations when it comes to assessing developments in the country of the last 10 years. In none of the regions surveyed does a majority of 50% or more of the population see an improvement in the situation. As also in the other countries, any sense of improvement tends to be reserved mostly for the spread of sustainable technologies. It fits strikingly well with the progress map that the proportion of respondents who do not have a concrete opinion (proportion of “Don’t knows”) is very high. With regard to opinion-forming processes, this usually indicates that people have not made up their minds. But the cultural context is also likely to play an important role here.

Social cohesion

Compared with the other countries surveyed, it is striking that the proportion of Japanese who take the view that sustainable societal development always includes minorities as well is relatively low: 47% are very much or fairly in agreement with this statement compared with an average of 70% across all countries. This probably has to do with the considerable cultural homogeneity of Japan. Likewise much smaller is the proportion of respondents who take the view that only a small minority is getting ever richer, while the majority of people are not benefiting from the growth of prosperity to the same extent. The perceived need for the state to do more to counter this development is also correspondingly less.

Battle against climate change

A majority of Japanese want to see people living more in harmony with nature again (53%). Half the population (50%) wants economic development to be more focused on sustainability instead of growth and 43% want to see more state intervention to combat environmental pollution by companies. These percentages are also relatively low compared with other countries.

Methodological Information

on behalf of: Credit Suisse

basic population: Japanese 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, Japan (N=1016)

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

quota characteristics: age/gender interlocked

weighing: age/gender

survey duration: average survey time in minutes in Japan = 12

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 Japan:

Progress items economy:

service-based society: Japan 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 Japan.
influx foreign experts: Japan needs more and more experts from abroad.
tax money for research: To strengthen Japan 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.
tax money for research: To strengthen Japan 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 independent media: There are fewer and fewer independent media outlets in Japan.
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.
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./Transmigration transforms the composition of societies.
sense of purpose in work: People increasingly look for passion and meaning in their work.
petrol tax: Additional taxes on petrol are demanded worldwide in order to slow down climate change.

Progress items politics:

underground transport: 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: Japan’s contributions to global development cooperation are increasing.
dependence on international agreements: When it comes to its global market position, Japan 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: Japan 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.
decisions are being made by EU: Importand decisions that affect Japan are being made by the EU.