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 Switzerland 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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Compared to all 16 countries surveyed, Switzerland has the lowest overall desire for progress (16th of 16). As seen in most other countries, people are particularly averse to embracing progress when it comes to current developments in the field of political issues.

Progress map Switzerland

Switzerland shows particularly marked variance in its desire for progress in society, the economy and politics The idea of expanding underground transport (also to protect the existing landscape) is met with a particularly marked willingness to see progress.

In addition to this priority issue, gender equality is another key area in which Swiss people want to see progress. Aside from the global #MeToo debate, the issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Switzerland were also reflected last year in a nationwide women’s strike and a national election in which the proportion of women elected to the national parliament reached a record high.

Finally, the Swiss also want progress in innovation and research – and are prepared to invest taxpayers‘ money. In Switzerland, as in almost all countries, electric mobility is one of the major progress issues and is much more popular as a climate-saving measure than the introduction of a new fuel tax.

The disappearance of independent and local media is something that is viewed particularly critically in federalist Switzerland, where political decisions are taken not only at the national level but also at the level of the cantons and municipalities.

The fact that the diversity of information often comes at the price of accuracy is also viewed critically. And people would like to see a reversal of these trends.

Switzerland has a comparatively dense population, since around a quarter of its territory is considered „unproductive“ by virtue of the Alps and lakes. The idea of using more natural land is therefore not met with much enthusiasm. On the contrary, Switzerland would like to dial back on any such developments.

As in many Western countries, politics in Switzerland is increasingly polarized, despite the system of consensus and concordance. Here, too, the population would like to see a return to earlier conditions and gave expression to this in the national elections in the autumn of 2019, when the more extreme parties clearly lost out. One of the issues where fights are carried out most intensely is migration. In this case, just as on the influx of foreign personnel, Switzerland ist reluctant to turn the wheel forward.

Today, Switzerland no longer has a strong industrial sector, but is primarily a services society (based on knowledge and innovation). The aim here is to maintain the status quo.


Desire for progress in Switzerland

Switzerland is reluctant to make more progress but would rather preserve the status quo, at least when it comes to social and economic issues.

This year’s Progress Barometer also identifies a slight desire to dial back on current political developments.

When asked how Swiss citizens themselves rate progress in their country, 52% feel Switzerland is very progressive or somewhat progressive when it comes to social issues. This corresponds closely to the average of all 16 countries surveyed. When it comes to politics (52%) and especially economic issues (84%), a much higher proportion of people feel their country is progressive than that of respondents in other countries (average of other countries 42% for politics and 56% for the economy).

Future prospects

A total of 64% of all Swiss citizens claim to be fully satisfied with life. That is the highest proportion of all 16 countries surveyed. Forty-four percent look to the future with some optimism – a further 37% have mixed feelings about what lies ahead. Optimism falls considerably when it comes to the outlook for the respondents’ children: 77% feel there is a risk that their children will not be as well off as the respondents themselves. Opinion is also divided when it comes to old-age provision: around half of those surveyed assume they will have sufficient resources in old age, while the other half are doubtful. Compared to the other 15 countries surveyed, a record 94% feel that Switzerland should continue to be innovative despite prosperity.

Assessment of past 10 years

It is in the protection of privacy where the biggest proportion of Swiss citizens sees a deterioration over the last 10 years (77%), followed by the coexistence between the national languages (59%) and social security (61%). Fifty-one percent feel that the people’s participation in decision-making has deteriorated. On the other hand, the country is felt to have has advanced in the area of sustainable technologies (72%) and in both urban (69%) and rural (56%) infrastructure.

Social cohesion

Compared with the other 15 countries surveyed, the proportion of Swiss who consider themselves part of the country’s middle class but feel their status to be under increasing pressure is highest of all (81%). Seventy-seven percent feel that only a minority accumulates wealth while the great majority does not benefit equally from developments and 58% think the government should do more to reduce this increasing inequality – even if it means higher taxes.

Battle against climate change

A substantial proportion of citizens feel that new technologies will help solve major global problems (53%) and that this will also be the key to saving the climate (46%). Switzerland is practically united in the idea that people should return to living in harmony with nature (92%) and that the economy has been too one-sided in its focus on growth and should now focus more on sustainability (91%). While still a large majority, the proportion of people who want more intervention against pollution is slightly smaller (82%).

Methodological information

on behalf of: Credit Suisse

basic population: Swiss citizens with the right to vote

fieldwork: gfs.bern

surveying: online opt in/panel

survey period: 20.09.2019-18.10.2019

sample size: min. 1000 per country, Switzerland (N=1737)

margin of error: at 50/50 (and 95 percent probability) Switzerland (± 2.4)

quota characteristics: age/gender interlocked

weighing: age/gender/political party preference

survey duration: average survey time in minutes in Switzerland = 19

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 Switzerland:

Progress items economy:

service-based society: Switzerland 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 Switzerland.
influx foreign experts: Switzerland needs more and more experts from abroad.
tax money for research: To strengthen Switzerland 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.
gender equality: Gender equality is promoted in all areas of life.

Progress items society:

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 Switzerland.
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 Switzerland retains ist beautiful landscape.
increase in pension deductions: Wage deductions for pensions are increasing because people are living longer.
increase in development aid: Switzerland’s contributions to global development cooperation are increasing.
dependence on international agreements: When it comes to its global market position, Switzerland 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: Switzerland 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.