European Tech Insights

Technology is transforming the world around us and this brings a combination of excitement and opportunity, but also challenges to our way of life, labor and how we safeguard what is ours. To tackle the great technological transformation of our time, public and private actors need to understand what is legitimate in the eyes of the citizens and what sort of technological future they may be ready to embrace. Our annual survey, European Tech Insights, explores attitudes towards technological change with the aim of understanding how technology is transforming our lives and how it should be governed.

European Tech Insights 2021 focuses on how the pandemic has altered our habits and perceptions with regards to healthcare, work, social networks and the urban space. More than a year after the outbreak of Covid-19, Europeans are still struggling to return to any form of pre-pandemic normality. While the long-lasting effects of the pandemic in our lives are yet to determined, our report unveils public opinion shifts that reveal the profound impact of this crisis.

European Tech Insights 2021 (Part I) reveals the impact the pandemic has had on public attitudes towards healthcare, automation, social media and urban areas in 9 European countries, as well as in the US and China.

One year on from the outbreak of Covid-19, the findings of the study suggest a sense of growing public responsibility to address the big societal issues which have been exposed or exacerbated by the pandemic – such as improving healthcare systems and protecting jobs.

In many cases, we are seeing a trend towards cooperation and social cohesion, and a changing relationship with urban spaces:

– Most Europeans (61%) are willing to pay more taxes to raise the salaries of essential workers from nurses to shop-workers. Highest support is found in Sweden (70%), UK (70%) and Spain (67%). The only country that is against the measure is France (54% against).

– Most Europeans (65%) support building a European Health Union to enhance cooperation in public health, with the strongest support in Spain (75%), Italy (73%) and the Netherlands (70%)

– 67% of Europeans support fiscal measures to help people and businesses move to smaller cities and rural areas, with the highest support in Spain (83%).

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The pandemic, however, has threatened many livelihoods and amplified concerns regarding technological transformation and labor markets.

The report also heightens job security concerns and points to a growing generational divide, which is set to widen as digital natives get older and their purchasing and political power gro

– Support for limiting automation to protect jobs is strongest among those under 44 (53% among 18-24- and 35-44-year olds) whereas those over 45 are more sceptical (only 45% of support on all groups over 45).

– Most young Europeans under the age of 25 (46%) show less privacy concerns and are more willing to share personal data, like their health data, while most over 35s (53%) would prefer not to. Strongest support is seen in Italy (52%), Spain (41%) the Netherlands and Poland (38%).

– Similarly, young Europeans are willing to let their governments share their health records with companies like Google, with 55% of under 25-year olds in favour.

The pandemic also had a large impact on Europeans’ relationship with the city.

Restrictions in mobility and the large shift to remote working are changing citizens’ expectations of urban spaces. There is now wider support among Europeans for greener, quieter cities.

A majority (43% vs. 41%) of Europeans want to reduce the presence of cars in the center of cities, which was not the case a year ago. Furthermore, a significant proportion of citizens, especially young Europeans, support a ban on petrol and diesel cars.

As vaccine rollout progresses and Europeans start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, this years’ edition offers a glimpse into the impact of the pandemic on public opinion, from demands for enhanced Euro­pean healthcare cooperation to increased awareness of the downsides of technological development.

You can download the full survey above.

Survey Methodology

European Tech Insights 2021 was conducted in January 2021. We interviewed 2,769 adults from 11 countries. Samples were representative in terms of age and sex. Respondents are part of recurrent panels recruited by Netquest or affiliated companies into panels via social media, direct mailing or through referrals from other respondents.

Previous Editions

European Tech Insights 2019 confirmed a shared intuition among researchers: the Fourth Industrial Revolution is producing a growing sense of insecurity and uncertainty among our fellow citizens.

European Tech Insights 2020 revealed how the onset of the pandemic had a major impact on global attitudes towards data privacy, politcs and the regulation of new technologies.

To find out more download our reports above.

Authors and contributors

Oscar Jonsson

IE University

Carlos Luca de Tena

IE University

Diego Rubio

IE University

Carlos Lastra Anadon

IE University

Irene Menéndez

IE University

Carl Benedikt Frey

University of Oxford

Christina J. Colclough

UNI Global Union