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 Singapore 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, Singapore ranks number 8 in terms of its readiness for progress and thus is right in the middle of the table.

Progress map Singapore

While floods or landslides are not uncommon in tropical Singapore, and technically earthquakes can also occur, the country is naturally protected from tsunamis by its surrounding islands. Nonetheless, Singaporeans clearly desire more progress when it comes to implementing projects to reduce the effects of natural catastrophes. One aspect of nature that is currently the subject of heated discussion in Singapore is the rising of sea levels. Only recently, the Singaporean government declared its intention to look into solutions dealing with the issue, thus complying with its citizens wish to see faster progress on this issue.

Another aspect that touches on the issue of climate change is the increase in availability of e-mobility. As in most other countries surveyed, this is an area where there is a marked and widespread desire for progress.

Singapore is already considered to be very attractive for business. But its citizens are still interested in seeing further progress in this regard: on free trade and low corporate taxes, for example; on the issue of regulations, however, they would like to see the dial turned back. The influx of foreign experts – a logical consequence of being a global hub – is viewed positively, but with slightly less desire for progress. While Singapore has developed spectacularly over the last decades, the comfort gained comes at a higher cost for living. This is something where the country would rather turn the dial back slightly.

The transition from an economy strongly focused on manufacturing to a modern, knowledge-based economy is an issue on which Singaporeans would rather maintain the status quo. Learning itself has a high value, however: lifelong learning is an area where there is a desire to see faster progress. On the other hand, the issue of parentocracy – where a child’s education must conform to the wealth and wishes of parents rather than the abilities and efforts of the pupil – is viewed with some criticism.

Singaporeans are not averse to being dependent on international agreements and are willing to spend more money on global development aid.

The question of equality for men and women also scores a high index value in Singapore, indicating a desire for more progress. Closely linked with this is a desire among Singapore’s citizens for more to be done to expand public childcare. The desire for progress in gender equality and gay rights go hand in hand in most other countries. However, this is not the case in Singapore, where the population prefers to slow down the expansion of homosexual rights.

The possibility of disseminating information on the internet has brought about a media revolution. On the upside, much more diverse information is available. On the downside, however, information is not necessarily scientifically or journalistically verifiable. The trade-off between availability and reliability is viewed with criticism in Singapore. Accordingly, Singapore would like to slow down the loss of independent media.

Desire for progress in Singapore

Overall, Singporeans want to see the wheels of progress in their country turning slightly faster than in the past. Of all 16 countries surveyed, Singapore ranks number 8 and thus right in the middle of the table.


The desire to see things moving faster is strongest in the area of society, followed by economic issues. In terms of political developments, Singaporeans want to maintain the status quo.

When asked how Singaporeans themselves would rate progress in their country, 71% are of the opinion that Singapore is currently very progressive or somewhat progressive when it comes to economic issues, 67% think the same of social progress, whereas only 51% would rate Singapore progressive when it comes to current political developments.

Future prospects

Singaporeans are comparatively optimistic about their future. The proportion of people fully satisfied with their current life, however, is roughly 10% below the average of all 16 countries surveyed. 74% feel that their status of belonging to the country’s middle class is increasingly under pressure and 62% very much or rather agree with the statement that there is a risk their children will not be as well off as the respondents themselves are now; 25% are at least quite confident they will have enough money to live comfortably when retired.

Assessment of past 10 years

When it comes to how much the country has improved over the last 10 years, Singapore ranks among the best (4th out of 16) in this year’s Progress Barometer. The changes have been most notable with regard to improvement in infrastructure (72%), national security (66%) and the effort to educate society (63%).

Social cohesion

Singapore is among the countries that agree most with the idea that the end of a progress phase has been reached with the growing risk of a backlash destroying what has been achieved so far (54% agree completely or tend to agree). 64% of Singapore’s voters believe that only a small minority is getting richer, while all others miss out on the benefits of developments, and 69% think government should do more to prevent this gap from becoming even wider.

Battle against climate change

While the introduction of a fuel tax is not the top progress issue, Singaporeans also do not show a clear aversion to such a policy. They also think government should do more to prevent companies from polluting the environment (75%). There is also quite a few who believe in the power of innovation: 47% tend to agree that giving up air travel or eating meat is not necessary, but that new technologies will save the climate instead.

Methodological Information

on behalf of: Credit Suisse

basic population: Singaporean 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, Singapore (N=1034)

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

quota characteristics: age/gender interlocked

weighing: age/gender

survey duration: average survey time in minutes in Singapore = 18

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 Singapore:

Progress items economy:

service-based society: Singapore 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 Singapore.
influx foreign experts: Singapore needs more and more experts from abroad.
tax money for research: To strengthen Australia as a research location, more taxpayers‘ money is spent on research.
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 Singapore as a research location, more taxpayers money is spent on research.
comfort/cost of life: Life in Singapore has become more comfortable in the last decades but also more expensive.

Progress items society:

gender equality: Gender equality is promoted in all areas of life.
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.
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.
parentocracy: Parents in Singapore are investing a lot of money in their children’s education to make sure they can compete for good jobs and universites.

Progress items politics:

increase in pension deductions: Wage deductions for pensions are increasing because people are living longer.
increase in development aid: Singapore’s contributions to global development cooperation are increasing.
dependence on international agreements: When it comes to its global market position, Singapore 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: Singapore 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.
projects against natural catastrophes: Projects are being developed to reduce the effects of natural catastrophes.