Overall, the survey, conducted among online adults aged under 65 in 23 countries around the world, found on average 54% felt that they felt under a lot of pressure to be successful and make money, an increase of seven points on a like-for-like basis between 2014 and 2016. The survey also finds continued high levels of support for the idea that it is more important to have a good work-life balance than a successful career, with 81% agreeing across the 23 countries.
The survey finds that 15 of the countries covered have seen a rise between 2014 and 2016 in the number of people feeling under pressure to be successful. All parts of the world are seeing an increase in their citizens feeling under pressure:
- In Europe – Belgium (up 16 points), France (up 10), Sweden (up 10), Germany (up 8), Britain (up 7), Spain (up 6) and Italy (also up 6)
- In North America – the United States (up 10) and Canada (up 8)
- In Asia-Pacific –Australia (up 15), South Korea (up 11), and Japan (up 8)
- In emerging economies in the rest of the world –Brazil (up 15), India (up 11) and South Africa (up 9).
Overall, emerging markets are more likely to feel under pressure than established economies (by 62% to 49% - especially in countries such as South Africa, India and China, compared with European countries such as Italy, Sweden, Spain and France), and younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z) are more likely to feel the pressure than older generations. There is little difference though by level of income.
Of course, most people want to achieve success – even if that means disruption to their current lives – but that does not mean that the majority only value success by material possessions. On average, two in three agree that they want to “achieve success personally and professionally, even if I have to totally change the way I live”, but only a minority (37%) say they measure their success by the things that they own. Again, in both cases, these apparently materialist views are much higher in emerging markets than in established economies. For example, the desire for success even at the cost of personal disruption is highest in India, Mexico, South Africa, Peru and China, and lowest in Italy and Sweden, while material success is valued most in China, India, Turkey and Brazil, and least in Spain, Sweden, Britain and Canada (and Argentina). Younger generations, too – the Millennials and Gen Z – are more likely to say they measure success in material terms.
Perhaps related to the pressure that many people are feeling, there is strong belief in every country in this study in the importance of a good work-life balance. On average, 81% agree that “it is more important to have a good work-life balance than to have a successful career”, and in no country does agreement dip below 70%.
Alongside this increase in pressure, many countries around the world see an increase in the proportion of their citizens who say “I have enough trouble worrying about my own problems than worrying about other people’s”. There has been an increase in 16 of the countries surveyed, again from around the world: Belgium (up 9 points since 2014), Brazil (+7), Canada (+5), China (+7), France (+9), Germany (+10), India (+9), Italy (+9), Japan (+7), Poland (+7), Russia (+8), South Korea (+8), Spain (+12), Sweden (+13), Turkey (+18), and the US (+9).
Overall, 56% across the 23 countries feel they have enough trouble worrying about their own problems, but in this case established economies tend to be more caught up in their own issues than emerging markets (by 57% to 51% - especially in the US, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Belgium while lowest in Peru, Indonesia, Argentina and Mexico). This may be related to the greater level of pessimism for the future in established economies. Overall, only 37% on average across the 23 countries say they think today’s youth will be better able to have a successful career than their parents, while 40% think it will be worse. However, among emerging markets optimists are in the majority at 56% - but in established economies like the UK and France they are very much in the minority at just 24%.