Majority of the people believe investing in infrastructure could stimulate economic growth and job creation but are cautious about delivery, increased taxation, and borrowing to fund such investments, according to a recent study. A recent global study conducted in 31 countries by Ipsos in collaboration with the Global Infrastructure Investor Association highlights this.
PUBLIC BACKING FOR INFRASTRUCTURE INVESTMENT
The survey reflects a global consensus, with an average of 69% of respondents believing that infrastructure investment has the potential to generate new jobs and boost the economy. Many consider it as a means to achieve a “double dividend” – enhancing the economy and addressing climate change, with 59% of respondents agreeing that it can make a significant contribution to combating climate change.
DISSATISFACTION WITH INFRASTRUCTURE DELIVERY
Despite the overall support for infrastructure investment, a majority of citizens are unsatisfied with their countries’ efforts in meeting the needs. On average, 57% feel that their nations are not doing enough to address these requirements, and 44% rate various construction sectors as being fairly or very poor.
ENVIRONMENT VS. ECONOMIC IMPACT
The study indicates that environmental considerations continue to gain importance in infrastructure decisions. In 2023, 47% prioritize environmental impacts, although there has been a slight shift towards economic impact, with 29% emphasizing it, compared to 51% and 26%, respectively, in 2021.
PUBLIC ATTITUDE TOWARDS FUNDING
While more people are open to increasing infrastructure spending, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this preference remains a minority view. Only 29% are comfortable with higher taxes or more government borrowing to support such investments, compared to 22% five years ago.
GLOBAL VARIATIONS IN SATISFACTION
Satisfaction with infrastructure varies significantly across countries. While the global average shows a higher level of satisfaction at 38%, it contrasts with an average dissatisfaction rate of 30%. Notably, 33% of respondents neither express satisfaction nor dissatisfaction. Sentiment ranges from highly positive in countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Netherlands, and India to more negative views in Peru, Italy, Hungary, and Romania.
A substantial portion of the population in South Africa (78%), Romania (78%), and Brazil (73%) agrees that their countries are not doing enough to meet infrastructure needs. In contrast, South Korea (21%), Singapore (28%), and Japan (31%) have the lowest levels of agreement.
VARIATION IN RATINGS
Public ratings of specific infrastructure sectors display significant differences. The assessment spans from a global country average of 68% for airports being very or fairly good to a lower 30% for flood defences. These ratings can fluctuate significantly in individual countries, such as the UK’s increase in negative ratings for water supply and sewerage.
The top infrastructure investment priorities globally encompass solar energy (42%), water supply/sewerage (41%), flood defences (41%), and new housing supply (39%). These have consistently remained the most favoured sectors for investment. However, these preferences differ across countries, reflecting regional needs and preferences.
BALANCING SPEED, LOCAL ENGAGEMENT, AND CLIMATE ADAPTATION
There is a widely held belief that infrastructure projects are not progressing quickly enough, with 60% of respondents expressing this sentiment. Most people do not want to compromise local community involvement in infrastructure planning, even if it leads to delays. Additionally, 61% of respondents feel that infrastructure in their country has not been adequately adapted to cope with future climate changes.
EQUITABLE COST DISTRIBUTION AND SHORT-TERM VS. LONG-TERM PRIORITIZATION
A global average of 64% of respondents supports spreading the cost of infrastructure investments evenly between current and future taxpayers and generations. There is a nearly even split between those who prioritize minimizing short-term costs (34%) and those who prioritize long-term infrastructure (37%). Younger generations tend to prioritize short-term costs more than older generations.