The latest report by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), quizzed global citizens from 50 different countries to find out how well societies are meeting the needs of their populations
Commissoned by Nitto Denko and titled, ‘Priorities of Progress: understanding citizens’ voices’, the report sheds light on citizens’ priorities among issues that range from healthcare, education, social protection, public safety, R&D, to the environment and transport infrastructure.
Built upon citizen insights and interviews with a panel of experts, the survey measures responses against publicly available spending data of governments.
Major findings from the report found that healthcare is the main priority for global citizens while Britons ranked public spending on research and development (R&D) their lowest priority.
And overall only 29% of respondents are content with how their society is being run.
However, citizens in the emerging markets of Asia and Africa indicated a more positive outlook compared with citizens in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.
The study aims to contribute to the current debate on how well societies are meeting the needs of their populations, how citizens feel about their country’s progress, and how closely this progress aligns to their preferred vision of society.
Key findings from the research include:
- More optimism in emerging markets: only 22% of Europeans and 18.8% of those in North and South America were content with the way their country was being run, compared with 40.6% of those in Asia-Pacific and 33.1% in Africa and the Middle East.
- “Priorities of progress”: asking citizens in 50 countries, the survey found that, overall, healthcare sits at the top of citizens’ priorities, followed by social protection (#2), access to education (#3), public order (#4), transport infrastructure (#5), the environment (#6) and R&D (#7).
- The road ahead: respondents are generally optimistic about the future, with 40% believing their country to be moving towards a better society versus 35% that did not. At the country level, Australians (67.3%) and South Koreans (69%) were particularly optimistic that their country would have made progress in the next ten years. However, those expecting changes for the worse were Germany (47%), Sweden and Japan (44% for both).
- Technology R&D and progress: Overall 60% responded technology has and will continue to benefit society (compared with 14% who disagreed); however when asked of the need to invest public resources, citizens placed the least priority on R&D.
- Generational divides on future trends: 50.7% of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2000) believe humanity is moving towards a better society, compared with only 44% of Gen X (1965-80) and 28.7% of Baby Boomers (1946-64).
- Non-traditional drivers for social change: Millennials had the largest proportion of respondents (20.3%) placing business as the primary institution responsible for positive change in society, compared with other generations. Millennials also had a smaller majority placing the central government as the most important actor (63.3%) compared with 71.7 % of Gen X and 72.1% of Baby Boomers
Naka Kondo, the editor of the report said: “The public wants to be involved in the decisions that shape society—and with new technologies, there are the means to incorporate their voices.
“We also found that Millennials are looking to non-traditional drivers for social change. People’s contentment with their society’s direction is not based entirely on material needs. Factors like fairness, solidarity, meaning, purpose and autonomy and processes are all crucial.
“While our survey showed that large numbers of people were worried or unsatisfied with their current country’s social and economic conditions, there were signs of optimism about the future.
“We launched the study to understand how well societies are meeting the needs of the citizens and how the public feels about their country’s progress in the hope of highlighting the importance of proactively thinking about what we want our society to look like.”
To read more insights and analysis from the study visit https://prioritiesofprogress.economist.com/