Global readiness for progress

Credit Suisse Progress Barometer 2019/2020

Credit Suisse

The Credit Suisse Progress Barometer 2019/2020 quantifies the desire for progress in society, politics and business around the globe.

For this year’s edition, 16,000 members of the public in 16 countries on six continents (all except Antarctica) were surveyed and asked to share their views on where in their country the wheel of progress should be accelerated, where the status quo should be maintained and where developments should be reversed.

The questionnaire for the Progress Barometer was developed and launched in 2018 in Switzerland and implemented in 2019/2020 at global level. gfs.bern cooperated with local experts from the fields of social sciences and journalism to adapt the questionnaire to the context and particular features of each country.

30 statements form the heart of the Progress Barometer concept, each of which relate to 10 aspects of progress in society, politics and business.

For each of these aspects, the respondents were asked to indicate whether in their opinion the wheel should turn much faster (indicating a desire for progress) or whether it should stop and turn backwards (indicating a dislike of progress).

The Progress Barometer not only collects information on where citizens want to take their country in the future, it also looks at the past and how members of the public assess the changes their country has undergone in the past decade.

This cockpit outlines the most important findings of the Credit Suisse Progress Barometer 2019 in cross-country comparison. A more in-depth discussion of the openness to progress in all 16 countries can be found in the respective country cockpits. Please consult the final report (in German) for full results.

Technical details on the survey can be found in the info box at the end of the cockpit.

Openness to progress by area

Indexed across all progress items and countries, globally people are most open to economic progress (16+).

Openness to social progress is somewhat lower (+12). This lower value is due to the fact that certain developments are very much desired in some countries, but are viewed more critically in others.

Current political developments are even more controversial (+5).

There are many areas, such as political polarisation and the changing media, where members of the public would prefer to see the wheel of development turn back.

On average, people would rather see the political status quo to be preserved than for current developments to continue. The calculated progress index has a range from -100 to +100. Despite an openness to progress in business, society and politics in general, it should be noted that globally the desire to turn the wheel faster is rather moderate.

Economic progress

As early as 2018, when the first Progress Barometer was conducted in Switzerland, a trend emerged regarding the time when economic progress should be accelerated: only once aspects of sustainability, mobility and global trends come together. This trend is not limited to Switzerland; it can be observed around the world.

In 2019, e-mobility is clearly the number one topic when it comes to progress. This development not only reflects the desire for sustainable individual mobility, it must also be understood as a stand against climate change, which dominates 2019 across the world with the FridaysForFuture movement.


There was no other economic progress item surveyed by the Credit Suisse Progress Barometer 2019 for which the global consensus regarding openness to making the wheel of progress turn faster was greater than for e-mobility.

This means that there is a belief in economic progress, but it is tied to ideas of sustainability. The connection between openness to progress and sustainability is also reflected in educational and energy issues.

Social progress

People’s openness to social progress is a little more nuanced in the 16 countries where the survey was conducted than openness to economic progress; generally speaking it has more broad-based support and is less tightly bound to specific conditions than this is the case for economic issues. Opinions in the area of social progress reflect such global movements as the Me Too debate and the gender shift megatrend.

Progress towards equal rights for women and men is very much desired in all countries. Similarly prominent is the call for progress in the area of childcare outside the family and for more meaning and fulfilment at work. While in some countries people clearly want to see there to be equal rights for homosexuals, this is plainly less the case in other countries.

Political progress

Assessments of political progress are more diverse and also more polarised. There is significant openness to progress with regard to increasing development aid, specifically in countries which have directly benefited from global relief efforts in the more recent past. In Switzerland, on the other hand, where increasing development aid is being discussed, people view this rather cautiously. Another global development issue are the new opportunities for political participation and involvement offered by the social media.


Although the role of social media is controversial at times, the possibility of people being able to spontaneously organise themselves via the internet to put pressure on politicians is recognised as important across the world. The spread of the internet contributes to the rapid increase in available (digital) sources of information, while traditional linear media are increasingly coming under pressure. The trade-off between the increase in available information and the simultaneous decrease in the correctness of this information (e.g. fake news) is consistently regarded as negative.

Openness to progress by country

The indexed openness to progress differs significantly by country. When all three dimensions are combined, the desire to accelerate the wheel of progress is most evident in Brazil and China. All other Asian countries also tend to be relatively open to progress; South Africa and Chile likewise rank at the top. In the Anglosphere and Europe, on the other hand, openness to progress is lower, with Switzerland being the least open to progress.


The example of Switzerland in particular shows that there is a clear correlation between perceived progress, a country’s openness to progress and absolute level of development (measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per person). Generally speaking, the higher a country’s level of prosperity measured by GDP per person, the lower its openness to progress.

Valuation last 10 years

When asked to look back at the last ten years, the respondents in the individual countries consider things to have improved on average rather than become worse. The survey covered developments in ten different areas, such as the dissemination of sustainable technologies, infrastructure and political participation (for details see the final report).

People in Asian countries in particular are largely satisfied with the development in recent years. In the countries of the Anglosphere, Russia and Germany people are more critical. The greatest difference between openness to progress and the retrospective perception of improvement was identified for Switzerland.

The dominant idea of the post-war years in Western countries – that the next generation will be better off than the previous one – no longer prevails. In most countries people now assume that there is a real danger that their children will not be as well off as they are.

This anxiety about the future is particularly common in Switzerland and in South Africa. People in Asian countries, on the other hand, do not generally share this attitude.


Correlation with development

For most countries, the higher the level of economic development, the lower people’s openness to progress. In the 16 countries surveyed, this is particularly true for the countries of the Anglosphere and Europe and pertains not only to the economic but also the social and political dimensions. While there is confidence in economic innovation even in highly developed countries, fears of loss of status and of negative effects of globalisation are interwoven with a vague hope of improvement.

Global zeitgeist

Whenever technical progress and sustainability come together, there is a call for progress across the globe. This global zeitgeist, further facilitated by the climate youth movement, currently epitomises the development of e-mobility more than anything else.

Political polarisation

Political polarisation is considered to be a problem everywhere. Instead of focusing on pragmatic solutions, a public struggle for power is being fought. More sustainability is thus also needed on the political stage. This is the only way for policy-makers to foster a belief in progress.

Country specific nuances

In addition to global trends and problem areas, there are also economic, social, political as well as cultural nuances that influence the level of people’s openness to progress. In Asia, a more positive view overall that focuses on economic progress and innovation is often dominant. The pluralistic societies of the West are more critical of many changes and like to take a nostalgic look into the past.

Methodical informations

on behalf of: Credit Suisse Switzerland AG

Population: Voters

Survey area: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, England, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, USA

Survey: online panel

Date of survey: 20.09.2019-18.10.2019

Sample size: minimum 1000 per country, effective: Australia (N=1016), Brazil (N=1040), Chile (N=1005), China (N=1040), Germany (N=1018), England (N=1025), India (N=1116), Indonesia (N=1033), Japan (N=1016), Canada (N=1043), Russia (N=1028), Switzerland (N=1737), Singapore (N=1034), South Africa (N=1033), South Korea (N=1012), USA (N=1003)

Sampling errors: at 50/50 (and 95% probability): Australia (± 3.1), Brazil (± 3), Chile (± 3), China (± 3), Germany (± 3.1), England (± 3.1), India (± 2.9), Indonesia (± 3), Japan (± 3.1), Canada (± 3), Russia (± 3.1), Switzerland (± 2.4), Singapore (± 3), South Africa (± 3), South Korea (± 3.1), USA (± 3.1)

Quota characteristics: age/gender interlocked

Weighting by age/gender: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, England, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea

Weighting by age/gender/party: Switzerland, USA

Survey duration: average value in minutes: Australia (17), Brazil (23), Canada (18), Chile (22), China (16), England (13), Germany (16), India (19), Indonesia (19), Japan (12), Russia (22), Switzerland (19), Singapore (18), South Africa (25), South Korea (12), USA (16)