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Davos Leaders "Optimistic on Economic Growth” – “Pessimistic on Security”

20 January 2006 - Geneva, Switzerland

A survey of participants of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, which takes place next week, has found that a majority of leaders taking part in the Meeting think the next generation will live in a more economically prosperous world. Nearly two-thirds (65%) think it will be a “lot more” or a “little more prosperous”. But the same respondents also indicated that the next generation will live in a less safe world, with 55% believing it would be “a little less safe” or “a lot less safe”.

Held under the theme, “The Creative Imperative”, the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting brings together 2,500 leaders from all walks of life to set the global agenda and tackle global problems in a cooperative way. The poll of participants – the “Voice of the Leaders” survey – asked exactly the same questions that Gallup International posed to a worldwide survey of global citizens in its “Voice of the People” survey, the results of which were released earlier this week (www.weforum.org/voiceofthepeople).

Gallup International’s “Voice of the People” survey, undertaken in November-December 2005, which interviewed close to 50,000 people representing nearly 2 billion global citizens in more than 60 countries, carried the same questions so results can be compared. (See results below.)

“It is clear from this survey that the leaders who will be gathering in Davos next week view the world and its problems in a different way than the wider global population. They share the same concerns about security, both economic and personal, but they often have very different priorities. As the participants meet in Davos, it is important that they take into account the hopes and fears of a wider population and incorporate them into their discussions – and decisions. In a world where trust in leaders is declining, the Forum can make a very real difference in reconnecting the world and preparing people from all sectors of society to tackle shared problems,” said Peter Torreele, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

Regarding the issue of safety for the next generation, global citizens are far more optimistic about this than are the sample of Davos participants. Global citizens think that the next generation will live in a safer world, but as the chart below shows, more than half the leaders questioned (55%) indicated they think that the next generation will live in a world that will be a lot (22%) or a little (33%) less safe than now, while only one in five (21%) feel that the world will be safer for the next generation.

Figure 1: Gallup International Voice of the People 2005 and Voice of the Leaders

The leaders’ opinions were far more buoyant concerning future economic prospects and almost two-thirds of the sample (65%) said that the next generation will have a lot or a little more economic prosperity than now. Only just over one in ten (11%) feel it will be the same as now and one in five (22%) indicated the next generation will have a lot or a little less economic prosperity. Global citizens were somewhat less optimistic than the Annual Meeting participants about economic prosperity, but the two sets of results are closer than they were on the issue of global safety, as Figure 2 shows.

Figure 2: Gallup International Voice of the People 2005 and Voice of the Leaders

The Davos participants were also asked what the priorities for world leaders in 2006 should be, as were global citizens in the Voice of the People survey. The Forum leaders’ responses clearly show that almost one-third (31%) of these respondents expect political leaders to encourage economic growth and improve the global economy. However, it should be borne in mind that the group is composed of predominantly commercial leaders.

As Figure 3 shows, global citizens are more likely to place social issues on the agenda of priorities for global leaders, and although 16% want leaders to encourage economic growth and improve the global economy the same proportion want closing the gap between rich and poor countries as the priority.

Some social objectives that the Davos participants would set for global political leaders featured high on the agenda. The second most important priority for this group is also closing the gap between rich and poor, which is mentioned by almost one-fifth of those surveyed (17%). Eliminating extreme poverty and hunger was also mentioned by one in eight (12%).

Over the years, trust in institutions has suffered a decline among the public. The Annual Meeting participants who answered this questionnaire also noted this is an issue – restoring trust and honesty in government, in business and in international institutions is considered an important priority for political leaders by 14% – twice the level of concern expressed by global citizens in the Voice of the People survey (7%).

Figure 3: Gallup International Voice of the People 2005 and Voice of the Leaders

Other social priorities such as protecting the environment (9%), reducing wars and conflicts (6%), and the war on terrorism (6%) were mentioned by less than one in ten of these leaders. But some of the declared Millennium Goals, such as overcoming AIDS and promoting full equality for women received even lower mentions of barely 1%.

Notes for Editors:

Photos of our events can be downloaded free of charge for journalists at https://www.swiss-image.ch/worldeconomicforum (login required).

The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. (www.weforum.org)

For more information, please contact:

Communications and Public Affairs
World Economic Forum
Tel.: +41 (0) 22 869 1212
Fax: +41 (0) 22 869 1394
E-mail: public.affairs@weforum.org


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Last updated: 20 January 2006
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