Four in 10 Americans rather want to see a solution to the gas crisis than a cure for cancer

We have recently seen gas and oil prices skyrocket on the global market, but, how do the rising energy costs affect how Americans prioritize and think?

Well, that was the question behind a recent survey commissioned by the Fairfax County (VA) Economic Development Authority, one of the leading economic development organizations in the US.

700 American adults were asked this question:

What do you believe should be the highest priority, in terms of investing money and resources, in order to achieve a meaningful technological advancement in the next 10 years?

The result might surprise. According to the survey Americans wants a solution to the gas crisis more than they want a cure for cancer, heart diseases or other similar medical breakthroughs.

37% of the people who took part in the survey "thought money and resources should be placed into a breakthrough in fuel efficiency or alternative fuels, while 30 percent wanted the effort placed against an advance in medicine."

The environment (climate change) was only ranked on third place with 14%.

Security and defence was ranked shortly after the environment with 10%. Transportation and space exploration each had 3% while telecommunication and media was placed at the bottom with only 2%.

The full survey result can be found below:

Top priority for technological breakthroughs?

Surprise: Four in 10 Americans say "fuel efficiency and alternative fuels”

Focus on medical and environmental concerns place second and third in national survey by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

Second survey reveals similar priorities among British respondents

Fairfax County, Virginia USA, April 3, 2008 – Nearly four in 10 Americans polled in a new survey say that improving fuel efficiency and developing alternative fuels should have the highest priority for investments that will lead to meaningful technological advances within the next decade.

In a just released national survey, commissioned by the Fairfax County (Virginia) Economic Development Authority (FCEDA, www.FairfaxCountyEDA.org) and conducted by IPSOS Public Affairs, an independent, leading global research company, 37 percent of those polled selected "fuel efficiency and alternative fuels” from a list of seven categories of potential investment. Placing second was "medical” (30%) followed by the "environment” (14%). As a percentage of the total, the other categories registered at 10% or less.

"These results are a snapshot in time of what people believe today should be the focus of technological investment,” said Gerald L. Gordon, Ph.D., president and CEO of the FCEDA. "As one of the world's most prominent breeding grounds for creative discovery and technological exploration, Fairfax County needs to know what is important to people. These survey results tell us that there is a tremendous interest in new technologies that will address a range of energy, medical and environmental concerns. These are instructive findings for large corporations, emerging startups and the investment community.”

The top line results of the survey, conducted by telephone of close to 700 American adults on March 7-9, were as follows:

If you had to choose from the following categories, what do you believe should be the highest priority, in terms of investing money and resources, in order to achieve a meaningful technological advancement in the next 10 years?

Fuel efficiency and alternative fuels Medical Environment Security and Defense Transportation Space Exploration Telecommunications and Media Don't know/Not sure

37% 30% 14% 10% 3% 3% 2% 1%

There were some notable demographic distinctions among the findings, including:

  • For female respondents, the top investment focus was medical (33%), which was cited foremost by 26% of men.
  • More than four in 10 men (43%) said fuel efficiency and alternative fuels should be the highest priority, while only 30% of women placed it on top.
  • Forty-six percent of college graduates named fuel efficiency as the number one priority versus 31% for those with high school degrees or less. (The highest priority cited by high school graduates was "medical” at 36 percent.).
  • Respondents in western states cited medical as the utmost priority at 34% versus 33% for fuel efficiency and alternative fuels.
  • Older survey participants were more inclined to select fuel efficiency and alternative fuels – 42% for those ages 55 and older versus 37% for those aged 35-54 and 31% for those between the ages of 18-34.

A parallel survey conducted by the FCEDA in Great Britain found that respondents favored advancements in "medical” technology and "fuel efficiency and alternative fuels” (38% and 33% respectively) above other categories. A desire to see breakthroughs in the "environment” ranked third in GB with 14 percent. As a percentage of the total, the remaining categories registered at 10 percent or less among British respondents, as they did in America.

The top-line results of the survey, conducted by telephone of more than 500 adults throughout Great Britain March 7-9 by Ipsos MORI, were as follows:

If you had to choose from the following categories, what do you believe should be the highest priority, in terms of investing money and resources, in order to achieve a meaningful technological advancement in the next 10 years?

Medical Fuel efficiency and alternative fuels Environment Transportation Security

and Defense Space Exploration Telecommunications and Media No opinion

38% 33% 14% 8% 4% 1% 1% 3%

There were also some notable demographic distinctions among the British findings, including:

  • 44 percent of male respondents said fuel efficiency and alternative fuels should be the highest priority, while only 23 percent of women placed it on top.
  • Women chose "medical” technology as the top investment focus (46%) while men placed medical second on their list (28%) behind fuel efficiency and alternative fuels.
  • Survey participants ages 55 to 64 were more inclined to select medical as their top priority (43%), while respondents 65+ selected fuel efficiency and alternative fuels (36%).
  • In terms of regions, the South East, Wales and the South West chose fuel efficiency and alternative fuels above all other categories (38 and 39% respectively). The Midlands, North England and Scotland all pinpointed medical as their key issue.

Survey Methodology

The FCEDA survey was conducted March 7-9, 2008 by Ipsos Public Affairs, which is owned and managed by research professionals. As part of its weekly U.S. Telephone Omnibus Study, IPSOS interviewed 692 adults ages 18 and older. The margin of error for the entire survey is 4% at a 95% confidence level.

About the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority (www.FairfaxCountyEDA.org) promotes Fairfax County, Virginia, as a business and technology center. In 2007 Time magazine called Fairfax County "one of the great economic success stories of our time.” It is the Washington, D.C., area's private-sector job leader and is a major hub for regional economic activity. The FCEDA maintains marketing offices in San Francisco, Bangalore, Frankfurt, London, Seoul and Tel Aviv.


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Simon Leufstedt
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