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Analysis of billions of internet searches shows Germany is the most forward-looking country

31.01.2013
The UK has been knocked off its perch as the most forward-looking country by Germany.

A new analysis of more than 45 billion Google queries found that in 2012 Germany searched for the future on the internet more than any other country. The UK held the number one spot in 2011, but slipped to fourth in 2012.

The Future-Orientation Index has been put together by Warwick Business School Associate Professor Tobias Preis and Dr Helen Susannah Moat, of University College London (see links below to the table). They analysed millions of Google logs from 2012 from 45 different countries to calculate the ratio of the volume of searches for ‘2013’ to the volume of searches for ‘2011’.

Previous research using this search data has shown that countries with internet users who search for more information about the future tend to have a higher per-capita GDP (Preis, Moat, Bishop and Stanley, 2012).

The Future-Orientation Index for 2012 shows Germany as the nation most focused on the future, with Japan second, Switzerland third and the UK fourth. At the bottom of the rankings are Pakistan, Vietnam and Kazakhstan.

In 2011 the UK was the nation most focused on 2012 in comparison to 2010, as the country prepared for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Poland and Ukraine also ranked higher in 2011, in the lead up to their joint hosting of the European Football Championships in 2012, but fell 11 and 13 places each in 2012. Germany’s rise up the charts in 2012 may be driven by a focus on their upcoming general elections, scheduled for this year.

Nigeria was the biggest climber in 2012, moving up 15 places and despite its economy entering its fifth recession in 15 years, Japan also made a big leap up the Future-Orientation Index, rising nine to third.

Dr Preis, Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and Finance at Warwick Business School, said: “In general we find a strong tendency for countries in which Google users enquire more about the future to exhibit a larger per capita GDP. There seems to be a relationship with the economic success of a country and the information seeking behaviour of its citizens online.”

Dr Moat from UCL’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering added: “We see two leading explanations for this relationship between search activity and GDP. Firstly, these findings may reflect international differences in attention to the future and the past, where a focus on the future supports economic success. Secondly, these findings may reflect international differences in the type of information sought online, perhaps due to economic influences on available Internet infrastructure”.

Preis and Moat introduced the Future-Orientation Index together with their colleagues Prof Steven R. Bishop (UCL) and Prof H Eugene Stanley (Boston University) in 2012, in a paper published in Scientific Reports (http://www.nature.com/srep/2012/120405/srep00350/full/srep00350.html).

To download a copy of the 2012 Future Orientation Index click on this link http://www.wbs.ac.uk/downloads/press/2012-ranking.jpeg

To download a copy of the 2011 Future Orientation Index click on this link http://www.wbs.ac.uk/downloads/press/2011-ranking.jpeg

To download a copy of the 2012 Future Orientation Index world map click on this link http://www.wbs.ac.uk/downloads/press/2012-map.jpeg

For more information contact Dr Tobias Preis at:
Email: Tobias.Preis@wbs.ac.uk
Tel: 024 765 28422
Mobile: +49 178 335 8225

Or contact:
Ashley Potter
Press & PR Officer
Warwick Business School
The University of Warwick
Coventry
CV4 7AL
Tel: +44 (0)24 7657 3967
Mob: +44 (0)7733 013264
Email: Ashley.potter@wbs.ac.uk

Notes to editors:
Tobias Preis is an Associate Professor of Behavioural Science and Finance at Warwick Business School. His recent research has aimed to carry out large scale experiments on complex social and economic systems by exploiting the volumes of data being generated by our interactions with technology. Preis advises government agencies as well as private companies on potential exploitation of online digital traces. More information can be found on his personal website http://www.tobiaspreis.de.

Warwick Business School, located in central England, is the largest department of the University of Warwick and the UK's fastest rising business school according the Financial Times. WBS is triple accredited by the leading global business education associations and was the first in the UK to attain this accreditation. Offering the full portfolio of business education courses, from undergraduate through to MBAs, and with a strong Doctoral Programme, WBS is the complete business school. Students at WBS currently number around 6,500, and come from 125 countries. Just under half of faculty are non-UK, or have worked abroad.

Ashley Potter | Warwick Business School
Further information:
http://www.wbs.ac.uk
http://www.tobiaspreis.de

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