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  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Budget consolidation is dominating the political agenda. The Hungarian government has embarked on an ambitious four-year consolidation programme following another election-year peak in the deficit in 2006 at 9.2% of GDP. The immediate revenue increases and spending cuts are temporarily damping growth. However, if all goes according to plan, the programme will bring dividends to the economy in the longer term. This payoff is crucially dependent on: Discipline in budgetary processes. Work needs to continue on strengthening budgetary mechanisms. A system of binding medium-term spending limits should be considered. Budgetary reform also needs to extend to the sub-national governments. Success in maintaining spending freezes. The re-scheduling that brought forward part of the 13th month payment to public-sector workers this year does not affect achievement of the 2007 fiscal target in accrual terms. Nevertheless, looking forward, strong resistance to spending pressures arising from revenue windfalls is of key importance. Implementation of the structural reform programme. The healthcare reforms that are expected to deliver a large share of fiscal savings are reasonably well advanced and a welcome cut in gas-price subsidies is already reducing government spending. The reforms in education are positive but the changes to the tuition–fee system in particular should go further. It is more uncertain, however, whether all the planned cuts in government administration will be realised. Successful reform of public spending requires the participation of the counties and municipal governments. There are potential savings in administrative overheads here too and sub-national governments are responsible for providing many government services. In-depth review of these issues in this Survey reveals a need to: Capture economies of scale. Political constraints preclude widespread mergers among the large number of small municipalities. However, the joint provision of services is widespread and should be encouraged further. Efforts to rationalise through replacement of county-level governments with regional assemblies should continue. Reform financing systems. The financing of sub-national government needs simplification and greater transparency and oversight in accounts. Also, the benchmarking of services via output and performance indicators needs to become more widespread. Reform of local taxation should include widening of property tax and removal of the local business tax. Hungary's low employment rate remains a key structural handicap to economic performance. There has been welcome reform of unemployment benefits and early-retirement pensions. Planned reforms to disability pensions look promising and a concrete proposal for old-age pension reform is in the pipeline. This Survey looks in depth at the issue of prolonged parental leave and other aspects of family policy: Current efforts to boost childcare services are welcome. Future reform needs to consider further strengthening of central-government provision requirements on municipalities regarding these services, matched by appropriate funding. A system of childcare vouchers for parents would be one way of increasing efficiency in the provision of services. Reform to the very long parental leaves should be considered, along with changes to the attendant system of additional cash benefits. Savings could be used to help fund increased childcare services.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Nations and regions are struggling to remain competitive and adapt in the context of globalisation. The regional specialisations built up over decades are transforming rapidly. Many regions that were historically production centres are losing out to lower-cost locations and are reorienting their activities to higher value-added non-manufacturing industries or R manufacturing niches. Yet, given that even some of these upstream activities have begun to be off-shored to lower-cost OECD and non-OECD countries, the question for policy is how durable are the competitive strengths on which regional economies are based.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Nationalism
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Despite a sharp housing market correction, overall growth has been holding up fairly well. Strong foreign demand and a decline in import growth have slowed the rise in the external deficit. With activity near capacity limits, some inflationary pressures have emerged. Reining them in without stifling growth is the main challenge for monetary policy. Looking further ahead, the key challenges are to sustain healthy growth and ensure fiscal sustainability in the face of population ageing. Against this backdrop, the Survey focuses on the following issues: Enhancing the economy's growth potential. Trend growth is slowing because labour productivity gains, though remaining high, no longer suffice to compensate for the deceleration in potential employment due mainly to demographic factors. Prospects for productivity growth appear favourable, but further efficiency gains could be achieved by tackling unfinished business in the area of structural reform. Labour supply could be boosted by increasing work incentives for the disabled, raising the earned income tax credit and delaying retirement eligibility.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Growth performance over the last decade has been among the best in the OECD, though a precise calibration is not yet possible following the recent revisions to GDP data. High growth has been driven by a range of factors, some of which are transitory. It is particularly encouraging that growth has been sustained over the last two years, despite substantial fiscal consolidation, mainly being driven by investment and exports. However, significant further reforms are needed to ensure that good performance is sustained in the years to come. It is imperative to use this period of strong performance to tackle remaining weaknesses in product and labour markets and move fiscal policy further towards a sustainable position by vigorous continued consolidation and pension reform. The key challenge, in terms of political economy, is to manage the required reforms in a context where society may be unduly complacent because the “good times” appear to be continuing.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: A welcome economic recovery is under way in Italy. In part, this reflects the cyclical upswing in the rest of Europe, but there are also early signs of a more fundamental improvement, notably in terms of export and labour market performance. Even so, medium-term prospects remain challenging: Total factor productivity shows little signs of resurgence, high public indebtedness threatens fiscal sustainability and population ageing looms large. Without further reforms to restore economic dynamism, living standards will be dragged down relative to other countries. This Survey discusses policies undertaken by the government to address these challenges, notably to boost competition on product markets, achieve fiscal sustainability and make fiscal federalism work – all in support of growth and adjustment.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Cartels are agreements among competitors fixing prices, allocating markets or rigging tenders (bids). They are the most harmful of all types of competition law violations and should be sanctioned severely. Cartel cases are unique. The most important part of a cartel case is simply proving that such an agreement existed. But getting direct evidence of a cartel agreement can be difficult. Cartel operators work in secret and often do not co-operate with investigators. In these circumstances, circumstantial evidence can play an important role in proving the agreement.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Treaties and Agreements
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments have long been engaged in providing goods or services to their citizens that could, in some form, be provided by the private sector. The trend over the past few decades, however, has been to transfer these functions, and the state-owned assets used to provide them, to private hands. The most common method, and the one usually preferred, is privatisation, or outright sale or transfer of ownership of the relevant assets to one or more private parties. A second, however, is concessions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Markets
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Sweden's 1993 Competition Act (CA) remains the foundation of a broad policy approach that includes prohibitions against restrictive agreements and abuse of dominance, control of concentrations, advocacy and support for academic research. Enforcement of this legislation by the Swedish Competition Authority (SCA) marked a shift towards a judicial, rules-based approach.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Following major economic reforms, the Slovak economy has grown strongly in recent years, driven by rapid productivity growth, but still has far to go to catch up to the per capita income levels in the advanced European countries. The incoming government has made achieving a more equal distribution of income a priority insofar as this can be done without damaging long-term growth prospects. There is considerable scope both to strengthen growth prospects and to reduce income inequality by raising employment rates, improving education outcomes (including by reducing the impact of socio-economic background), and by removing barriers to product-market competition. The new government has also reiterated its commitment to Slovakia's entry into the euro area in January 2009 and has taken steps to make it probable that Slovakia will satisfy the Maastricht criteria for entry on a sustainable basis. Policies may need to be adapted to support macroeconomic stability in the currency union.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Poverty
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Slovakia
  • Publication Date: 04-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: New Zealand has undertaken wide-ranging reforms over the past 20 years and now has one of the most flexible and resilient economies in the OECD. However, a large external deficit, very low household saving and still-strong inflation pressures indicate an unbalanced growth pattern. There are some signs that these imbalances are starting to unwind, but the short-term outlook remains uncertain. On current settings, it will take time for inflation pressures to dissipate and, notwithstanding a large fiscal surplus, strong growth in government spending is complicating the stabilisation task of the Reserve Bank. Moreover, additional fiscal stimulus beyond present plans – whether from spending increases or tax reductions – would delay internal and external rebalancing and exacerbate the adjustment required to ensure fiscal sustainability in the longer term.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific, New Zealand
  • Publication Date: 05-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Southeast Asian region has shown remarkable economic dynamism. Economic growth has been robust, and trade and investment flows have been soaring as a result of increasing international division of labour.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Regulatory reform contributes to promoting sustained economic growth, complementing sound macro-economic policies. While Sweden has made significant progress on regulatory reform since the early 1990s and enjoyed major productivity gains as a result, it should instil more competition in the public sector, cut red tape and liberalise labour markets if it is to meet the challenge of an ageing population and maintain its high standards of social welfare.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Regulatory reform is a priority in the effort to promote sustainable economic growth, complementing sound macroeconomic policies. It can help shift economic activity to higher value-added production and services, encourage the use of appropriate and new technology and make national economies more resilient to economic shocks. Regulatory reform is a very important asset as countries move forward in the process of globalisation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Korea
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Belgian economy is in a strong recovery phase. The balancing of the budget since the start of the decade has allowed public debt to fall fast relative to GDP, providing a favourable macroeconomic background for the recovery. Moreover, structural reforms, particularly in the labour market, are showing signs of success. Output has accelerated and was by mid-2006 growing at 3% – the fastest pace since 2000. With growth well above potential, some production factors are already under strain. The challenge will be to persist with stability and reform-oriented policies to bolster the economy's trend growth, a challenge made more acute by the impending ageing of the population.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Belgium
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Randstad is the poly-centric urban area in western Netherlands, comprising Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and several smaller cities. It is one of the most densely populated areas in the OECD, which has developed into an advanced urban economy with many leading sectors, such as logistics, horticulture and financial services. The Randstad has one of the lowest unemployment rates in all OECD countries and is one of the most attractive metropolitan areas for foreign direct investment.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Netherlands, Rotterdam, Amsterdam
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Are policies to protect the environment giving value for money – and how can we know? Recognising that policy decisions should be based on a comparison of costs and benefits, a number of OECD governments have introduced legal provisions requiring a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of new environmental regulations or measures.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Environment, Government
  • Publication Date: 03-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Intellectual assets have become strategic factors for value creation by firms. The expansion of the services sector, globalisation, deregulation, and the emergence of new information technologies have brought to the fore the issue of how knowledge is created, disseminated, retained and used to obtain economic returns. This has led to a structural change, from traditional scale-based manufacturing, which mainly relies on tangible assets, to new innovation-oriented activities which rely largely on research and development, patents, software, human resources and new organisational structures – collectively referred to as intellectual assets.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Globalization
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Parliamentarians are at the heart of democratic systems. They pass laws and hold government purse strings. Because of their important role in national policy-making, it is only natural that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) co-operate with parliamentarians when formulating its policy advice. So keeping parliamentarians informed of its activities and getting their feedback is a high priority for the Organisation.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Sweden enjoys excellent macroeconomic performance with high rates of growth, low unemployment and stable inflation expectations. Early steps in regulatory reform, taken in the 1990s, are paying off in terms of productivity and GDP growth. However, tensions are visible at the margin. Employment rates have not recovered to traditionally high levels since the crisis of the early 1990s. Joblessness is widespread among immigrants and youngsters, and disability and sickness rates are comparatively high. As well, renewed regulatory reform is needed, inter alia to address the low rate of enterprise formation and enterprise growth that may weaken the economy's ability to venture into new business fields.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 02-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Societies produce ever-growing quantities of solid waste, from packaging to abandoned televisions and cars. Disposing of this waste, often by burying it in landfills or burning it, produces significant soil contamination, as well as air and water pollution. It is particularly important to manage hazardous solid waste safely and efficiently.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The economy is experiencing a favourable period of robust growth, low unemployment and moderate underlying inflation. This largely reflects the effects of globalisation, of which Norway has been a prime beneficiary, supplying energy and other commodities at high prices and increasingly importing products from low-cost countries. Sizeable labour migration inflows, together with sustained productivity growth, have kept cost inflation at a moderate pace. A tradition of foreign trade openness, domestic competition, a good policy framework and sound macroeconomic management have meant that Norway was well prepared to take advantage of these international trends.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Cutting red tape is a priority on the political agenda. Businesses and citizens complain that they spend much time and devote significant resources to activities such as filling out forms, applying for permits and licences, reporting business information, notifying changes, etc.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Spain's economy has managed a remarkable performance in terms of growth, employment and public finances over more than a decade. A combination of expansionary monetary conditions, fiscal prudence, beneficial structural reforms and the positive supply-side effects of the strong rise in immigration has contributed to these outcomes. But these favourable developments are tempered by deterioration in several areas: the still high inflation differential has harmed competitiveness, and the resulting low real interest rates entail excessive domestic demand, which has been supported, jointly with employment growth and immigration, by ongoing rapid increases in household indebtedness and house prices. Despite some improvement, growth has therefore remained unbalanced as manifest in the large external deficit. Looking ahead, productivity gains are still modest, risking a substantial weakening in output and per capita income growth in the coming years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Migration
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Before a firm can compete in a market, it has to be able to enter it. Many markets have at least some impediments that make it more difficult for a firm to enter a market. A debate over how to define the term “barriers to entry” began decades ago, however, and it has yet to be won. Some scholars have argued, for example, that an obstacle is not an entry barrier if incumbent firms faced it when they entered the market. Others contend that an entry barrier is anything that hinders entry and has the effect of reducing or limiting competition. A number of other definitions have been proposed, but none of them has emerged as a clear favourite. Because the debate remains unsettled but the various definitions continue to be used as analytical tools, the possibility of confusion – and therefore of flawed competition policy – has lingered for many years.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: After several false starts, the economic recovery has taken hold. Activity was strong in 2006, firms and households are more confident about the future, business investment has picked up and unemployment has fallen below 8% for the first time since 2001. There are encouraging signs that the recovery is broadening to embrace household consumption as well. If in addition structural reforms continue, the expansion will become durable and self-sustaining, a prospect also supported by sound corporate and household balance sheets and favourable financing conditions. All this is good news, though it should be kept in perspective. Growth of around 2¼ per cent per annum projected for 2007 and 2008 is still modest by OECD standards, although the growth gap is smaller when measured on a per capita basis. Still, it could take until 2008 for cyclical slack to be fully absorbed.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Felix Zimmermann, Denis Drechsler
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: With concern about how to finance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) widespread, recent donor pledges to raise aid volumes are welcome. However, aid alone will not suffice – bringing in new actors and sources of development finance will be essential. In many developing countries, this is already happening, creating new opportunities and challenges for their governments and donors.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Health, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Helmut Reisen, Pierre Jacquet, Daniel Cohen
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Suppose a DAC donor earmarks $1 billion of taxpayers' money for official development assistance (ODA). The donor may use two instruments as an outright grant or in combination with a market loan to produce a concessional loan of $2 billion with a percentage grant element of 50 per cent. Many nowadays think the choice should be clear: provide grants only, leave loans to the market. The purpose of this Policy Brief is to qualify and inform this choice.
  • Topic: International Relations, Debt, Economics, Third World
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Russian economy has been enjoying a period of robust growth, thanks largely to steadily rising terms of trade. The challenge confronting policy-makers is to facilitate Russia's transition into a period of self-sustaining, investment- and innovation-led growth. This will require a sound macroeconomic policy framework to manage the economy's adjustment to sustained high oil prices and a range of structural reforms aimed at creating better framework conditions for business.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Considerable progress has been made in recent years in achieving macroeconomic stability and restructuring the economy. Productivity has risen since the macroeconomic stabilisation of the mid-1990s and the implementation of a series of structural reforms. But Brazil's GDP growth performance (about 2.5% per year on average since 1995) nevertheless needs to improve to close a widening income gap relative to the OECD area. Reaping the full benefits of stabilisation in terms of faster growth will require consolidating macroeconomic adjustment, boosting innovation in the business sector and stepping up formal labour utilisation.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: With a surface area of 1.22 million km2 and a population of 46.9 million, South Africa is one of the largest countries on the African continent. It is also the largest African economy, with a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 3 530, more than four times the African average.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: South Africa
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Competition policy plays a key role in promoting consumer welfare and market opening. Lack of competition is a main reason for the high prices of many products and services on the Swiss market. Traditionally, Swiss competition policy has been relatively lenient and low profile, allowing a relatively uncompetitive internal market to remain unchallenged. The impact of competition policy on economic development has therefore been at best neutral. As the slow rate of growth becomes an issue, however, a more vigorous approach to competition has been identified as an important factor for improving growth prospects. The 2003 reform of the Cartel Act strengthened Swiss competition law, in particular by introducing direct sanctions for the most serious infringements and a leniency programme, thus bringing it closer to that of the European Union and of many other OECD countries. The Swiss Competition Commission has been given considerable new powers to combat private restraints of competition. Comco will have to enforce the new laws resolutely and step up action to promote regulatory reforms. In doing so, it is burdened by institutional arrangements and mechanisms that temper its full independence. The Swiss competition enforcers do not benefit from the networks of exchanges available to national competition authorities in EU member States. Matters are further complicated by a relative lack of resources. Strengthening competition is a key for an effective internal market. The amendments to strengthen the Cartel Law and pending reform proposals signal determination on the part of the Confederation to tackle the problems. It is too early to say how effective they will be and the extent to which they will encourage a change in general attitudes, notably among the sub federal levels of government.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance, Law
  • Political Geography: Switzerland
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Growth performance has been among the best in the OECD, underpinned by a strong innovation performance and high educational attainment. The unemployment rate, currently at 8%, has dropped below the euro area average, employment rates, particularly among the old workers, have been increasing rapidly, inflation is among the lowest in the OECD and the government surplus sizeable.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Finland
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Portugal's economic performance has deteriorated markedly since 2000, with the slowdown turning out to be more severe and prolonged than in most other OECD countries. This lack of resilience reveals structural weaknesses. Meanwhile, with low growth and weak control of public expenditure, the fiscal deficit has remained at unsustainably high levels, reaching close to 6% of GDP in 2005. Despite the existence of a large output gap, the high fiscal deficit leaves no room to stimulate demand. The government has embarked on a strategy that aims at consolidating public finances and enhancing growth and it is important to strengthen these efforts. Without more wage restraint and higher productivity growth, there is a clear risk that Portugal's competitiveness continues to deteriorate and the income gap vis-à-vis the OECD average widens further.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Portugal
  • Publication Date: 04-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: For many cities in OECD countries, globalisation has opened access to new markets, skilled human resources and advanced technology, while accelerating international competition and industrial restructuring. Seoul – a city of 10.3 million people at the core of a capital region of 22.5 million people, one of the world's most populous metropolitan regions – is striving to upgrade its position from that of a national mega-capital to become a “world city” and a leading business hub in Northeast Asia.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Korea, Northeast Asia, Seoul
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Fears that “globalisation” implies increasing job losses and lower wages are an important source of popular ambivalence towards the increasingly open character of OECD economies. Although such concerns are not new, recent developments appear to have heightened workers' apprehensions that rising trade competition threatens their jobs, wages and employment conditions, particularly in the higher-wage OECD countries. Increased international sourcing of production activities – including the “offshoring” of some white-collar jobs in information technology (IT) and business services – has led some commentators to conclude that a large share of high-wage OECD workers will soon be in direct competition with workers in countries where wages are far lower. EU enlargement and the increasing integration of large, labour-surplus economies such as India and China into the world trading system also reinforce anxieties about “delocalisation” and “a race to the bottom”.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: China
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Stockholm is one of the most successful metropolitan regions in the OECD. Throughout the 1990s, the region experienced consistent and impressive growth, drawing on its role as the national capital, its research and development strengths, concentration of advanced business, logistical and financial services, and specialisation in high growth, high-tech sectors, notably ICT. Stockholm also stands out for its high quality of life, as is evident in its strong public health performance, high educational attainment and low poverty levels. In terms of these and other socio-economic indicators, Stockholm ranks among the best in the world.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Many OECD countries have reformed their personal income tax system over the last two decades. Yet no clear consensus has emerged on what is the ideal personal income tax. These reforms have tried to create a competitive fiscal environment, which encourages investment, risk taking and entrepreneurship and provides increased work incentives. At the same time, fairness and simplicity have become the byword of reformers. Fairness requires that taxpayers in similar circumstances pay similar amounts of tax and that the tax burden is appropriately shared. Simplicity requires that paying your taxes becomes as painless as possible and that the costs of collecting taxes are kept at a minimum.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Climate change poses a serious challenge to social and economic development. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable because their economies are generally more dependent on climate-sensitive natural resources, and because they are less able to cope with the impacts of climate change.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: What is sustainable development and why is it important? Most people support the idea of sustainable development, but without fully understanding what it is. Most would agree that it implies a better balance between economic, environmental and social goals, and greater fairness in distributing the gains from growth among people and countries. It also concerns preserving the environment and natural resources as a basis for progress. And it means making policy decisions which are in the interest of future generations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Environment
  • Publication Date: 03-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Ireland has continued its exemplary economic performance, attaining some of the highest growth rates in the OECD. After a remarkable decade, per-capita income has caught up with and overtaken the EU average. Further progress will require strong productivity growth and continued increases in labour supply. These challenges are familiar to most OECD economies. But it also faces some issues that are less common: it is going through a transition phase in upgrading its social services; infrastructure levels need to catch up with the boom in activity and population that has occurred over this period; and it has to manage some sizeable macroeconomic risks.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ireland
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The OECD represents the governments of its 30 member countries, but it does not work for them in a vacuum. The major stakeholders of democratic societies – business, trade unions and other members of civil society – also have an important role in OECD work.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Fish piracy, or illegal fishing activity, depletes global fish stocks and undermines efforts to ensure continued, renewable stocks for the future. It also damages the economic and social welfare of those involved in legal fishing, and reduces incentives to play by the rules. But despite national and international efforts, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing continues to thrive worldwide.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Human Welfare, International Law
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Predatory pricing is the practice of offering goods or services at exceptionally low prices, thereby forfeiting some profit in order to drive competitors out of the market, discipline them, and/or deter entry. It is among the most frequently discussed topics in competition law and economics.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Industrial Policy, Markets
  • Publication Date: 12-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments pay out some USD 6 billion a year to support the fisheries sector in OECD countries. This money, variously called subsidies, support or financial transfers, is used to help manage fish stocks, to modernise fishing fleets, and to help communities and regions that can no longer make a living out of fishing to develop other economic activity. The money is also intended to assist in resolving problems of over-fishing and over-capacity that affect many parts of the OECD fishing industry.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Government
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China is the world's sixth largest economy and its most populous country, home to 1.3 billion people or 21% of the Earth's total population. But it faces a major challenge in providing its people with food – China has only 10% of the world's arable land and only one quarter of the average world water resources per person.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Civil Society, Economics
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments have made major changes to the way they manage the public sector in the past two decades, privatising commercial activities such as telephone services, cutting red tape and making government more transparent and responsive to citizens.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 11-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Chile continues to be a strong performer and the economy has recovered in earnest from the 1998-2003 slowdown. Macroeconomic management has been exemplary and policies have been framed in rules-based, credible settings. Public finances are particularly robust, making the economy resilient to shocks. Structural reform is on-going, unleashing opportunities for growth. But Chile's income gap remains sizeable relative to the OECD area. Lifting the economy's growth potential is therefore Chile's overarching policy challenge.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: South America
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Brazil is a major player in the global economy, one of the world's 10 largest economies, with a population of 180 million and vast natural resources. Brazil's agricultural land is exceeded only by China, Australia and the United States, and agriculture plays an important role in the country's economy. Primary agriculture accounts for 8% of GDP, while agricultural products account for about 30% of exports.
  • Topic: International Relations, Agriculture, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Brazil, South America, Australia
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Despite higher energy prices, the expansion has continued at a solid pace, driven by private domestic demand. With the output gap closing, stimulus is appropriately being withdrawn. However, monetary tightening since mid-2004 has not yet translated into higher long-term interest rates, and the incipient decline in the federal budget deficit owes much to the recent buoyancy of revenues. Over the next 18 months, the economy is projected to grow at an annual rate of 3¼ per cent, roughly in line with estimated potential output. Although such a soft landing is the most likely outcome, there are some risks. With little economic slack left, inflation could continue to pick up, in particular if oil prices keep rising. Insufficient public spending restraint or renewed dollar weakness associated with concerns about the external deficit might also add to inflationary pressures. On the other hand, an end to the house price boom, let alone a sharp correction, could entail a retrenchment of household expenditure that has been underpinned by rising household wealth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The stability and resilience of the economy has been impressive and labour and product markets are among the most flexible in the OECD, but structural economic performance judged against a range of indicators can be further improved.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Steady increases in trade volumes and complexity in recent years have significantly changed the operating environment for the international trading community. They have also highlighted the negative impact of inefficient border procedures on governments, businesses and ultimately on the customer and the economy as a whole. Governments may face smuggling, fraud and national security problems, which drain the public coffers, while businesses pay the price of slow and unpredictable goods delivery, costly customs procedures, and even lost business opportunities. And all these costs ultimately make goods more expensive for the consumer.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Space, and man's relationship to it, has captured the human imagination for centuries. During the 20th century, dreams of space exploration became reality, and now dozens of countries, in particular in the OECD area, devote major resources to space programmes. But is this money well spent? Can we use space to find solutions to Earth's problems not available on the ground, or are we just pursuing high-priced star-filled dreams? Space technology may have brought us benefits from satellite telecommunications and their associated benefits such as telemedicine, but could we be doing more to exploit the link between space exploration and Earth application?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 10-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The modern era of competition policy in Brazil began in 1994 with the enactment of a new law as part of the “Real Plan”, a set of policies developed to deal with a period of hyperinflation. The law established a Brazilian Competition Policy System (BCPS) consisting of three agencies: a re-configured Administrative Council for Economic Defence (CADE), which had originally been created in 1962, the Economic Law Office (SDE) in the Ministry of Justice, and the Secretariat for Economic Monitoring (SEAE) in the Ministry of Finance. CADE has adjudicative authority in BCPS cases, while SDE has the principal investigative role, and SEAE is primarily responsible for providing economic analysis.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Services, from health to banking, have become the single largest sector in many economies worldwide. They not only provide the bulk of employment and income in many countries, but they also serve as vital input, such as telecommunications, for producing other goods and services. So an efficient services sector is crucial for the overall economy. And because of this, agreement on opening up services markets is crucial to the success of the current global trade talks.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The evolution of Turkey's economy from a government-controlled regime to market-based competition led to the enactment in 1994 of the Act on the Protection of Competition (“Competition Act”) and the creation of the Turkish Competition Authority (“TCA”). Final impetus for the legislation was Turkey's negotiation of a customs union agreement with the European Union, which obliged Turkey to enact the EU's standard competition provisions as its own law and to establish an agency to enforce them.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Sound macroeconomic policy, assertive product, capital and labour market liberalisation, and fundamental tax and welfare reform have transformed the Slovak business environment in recent years. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has responded particularly well, becoming the prime engine of capacity and productivity growth, and helping to put the economy on a strong and well-balanced growth path.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's economic reforms over the past two decades have brought remarkable growth, the development of a vibrant private sector and significant reform of the state-owned sector. Private businesses now represent some 57% of GDP, and productivity in the state-owned sector has improved significantly. However, a number of problems threaten to undermine prospects for sustainable growth. These notably include social tensions, partly due to increasing inequality within society and massive migration to the cities, but also linked to corruption, insufficient public services and rising unemployment as millions of workers have been laid off in the reform of the state-owned sector, while agriculture still displays huge structural under-employment.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: China's economic growth has averaged 9½% per cent over the past two decades. The rapid pace of economic change is likely to be sustained for some time. These gains have contributed not only to higher personal incomes, but also to a significant reduction in poverty. At the same time, the economy has become substantially integrated with the world economy. A large part of these gains have come through profound shifts in government policies. Reforms have allowed market prices and private investors to play a significant role in production and trade.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Fiscal management has been successful in recent years, and the backdrop of an inflation-targeting monetary policy has helped anchor expectations that macroeconomic stability is here to stay. In addition, the financial sector has gone through an important transformation and a broader and deeper domestic capital market has developed. This will enable the Mexican authorities to turn more of their attention to long-term priorities, which are where the important policy challenges increasingly lie. Faster growth of living standards will require reforms to the tax system so as to finance the appropriate level of current spending and long-term investment needs. Fiscal relations between the different levels of government need to be re-thought so as to ensure a more effective and more equitable use of revenues. Part of higher oil revenues should be earmarked for financing some important multi-year but finite programmes. Major reforms to education, the labour market, the electricity industry, other network sectors and ways of doing business are also desirable, and will help spur investment in Mexico's future by both domestic and foreign firms. It is important that reforms be assessed and judged by legislators on their intrinsic merits rather than through the prism of short-term political considerations.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Central America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 09-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In recent years Japan has been challenged by important socioeconomic changes. Low economic growth, population ageing and depopulation, and new trade relationships with the East Asia region have made it increasingly necessary to transform the system established during the period of economic and demographic expansion.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, East Asia
  • Publication Date: 08-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Norwegian economy continues to recover strongly from its 2002-2003 slowdown. Low interest rates, competition induced productivity gains, high investments by the booming oil sector, terms-of-trade gains and supportive macroeconomic policies are the main drivers. Inflation is low and labour inputs in terms of hours worked are rising briskly. Strong growth is likely for the remainder of this year and possibly during 2006.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The composition of growth of the Hungarian economy has become healthier and real convergence looks set to be on a sustainable path. While most reforms to establish a flourishing market economy have been carried out and the current government is launching a new reform initiative of "100 Steps", more needs to be done in two broad areas in order to maintain high growth: Achieving a smooth entry into the euro area: Frequently missed policy targets, tensions between the government and the Central Bank and stubbornly high twin deficits have established an unhealthy climate of financial volatility, which contrasts with and may even risk threatening the rather smooth process of real convergence. Increasing trend growth by both raising the employment potential and trend productivity growth: A large share of Hungarians with some work capacity is not working in part because of the way social benefits are designed. Low employment is aggravated by impediments to regional mobility of the labour force. Hungary needs to move further up the value added chain. This process for the time being rests very much on investments by foreign companies while innovative activities and commercial applications of own research remain limited.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Hungary
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Economic policy in the euro area pursues the objectives of achieving solid economic growth, a better performance of labour markets and restoring sound public finances in the context of a single monetary policy which aims at maintaining price stability. Although inflation has remained just above the ECB's definition of price stability, longer-term inflation expectations remain firmly anchored to price stability. However, progress towards the other goals has been disappointing thus far partly owing to adverse shocks such as higher oil prices or exchange rate shifts. On unchanged policies and with population ageing the euro area's potential output growth is set to decelerate over the next decades and eventually stabilises at around 1% per annum by about 2020, as illustrated in the following scenario:
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Recent and prospective growth performance is good. The Greek economy has continued to grow vigorously, buoyed especially by low nominal and real interest rates and an expansionary fiscal policy stance, largely reflecting public works in preparation for the Olympic Games in 2004. The outlook is for some slowing activity in the near term, triggered by fiscal consolidation, but a subsequent pick-up in growth thereafter. However, inflation is likely to remain above the euro-area average, to a certain extent eroding Greece's international competitiveness. Fiscal consolidation is the main priority. The fiscal audit, performed by the new government in close collaboration with Eurostat has revealed a very loose fiscal policy since the late 1990s, culminating in a general government deficit of 6% of GDP in 2004. The government debt-to-GDP ratio has remained stubbornly above 100%, despite uninterrupted strong growth during the past eleven years. Reining in government deficits is of vital importance both to meet the fiscal objectives of EMU, and to prepare for demographically-related budget pressures that will start emerging in a decade's time. Moreover, sustained high public debt makes Greece relatively more vulnerable to changes in interest rates and market sentiment, while it's servicing threatens to crowd out public spending in areas important for Greece's ambitions to reach income levels elsewhere in the EU.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Greece
  • Publication Date: 07-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The economy has continued on its strong upward course and living standards – measured as real GDP per person – have risen steadily over the past decade, putting the country on track towards the government’s objective of returning to the top half of the OECD. But capacity has become increasingly strained, and monetary policy has been tightened to ensure inflation remains well anchored. The country’s prospects are bright, with potential growth projected to remain comfortably above 3% per year over the medium term
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific, New Zealand
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Fears that "globalisation" implies increasing job losses and lower wages are an important source of popular ambivalence towards the increasingly open character of OECD economies. Although such concerns are not new, recent developments appear to have heightened workers' apprehensions that rising trade competition threatens their jobs, wages and employment conditions, particularly in the higher-wage OECD countries. Increased international sourcing of production activities — including the "offshoring" of some white-collar jobs in information technology (IT) and business services — has led some commentators to conclude that a large share of high-wage OECD workers will soon be in direct competition with workers in countries where wages are far lower. EU enlargement and the increasing integration of large, labour-surplus economies such as India and China into the world trading system also reinforce anxieties about "delocalisation" and "a race to the bottom".
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Globalization, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: All OECD governments recognise the need to provide income support for the unemployed. But how do they ensure that income support provides a cushion for a brief period to enable the person to find a new job, without becoming a permanent alternative to work? Cutting benefit levels would automatically increase the incentive to move from welfare to work, but it would not help people to find suitable employment and would aggravate social hardship for those who do not enter employment at all. Providing income support for jobseekers while at the same time strengthening their incentive to work is a puzzle that most OECD countries are still trying to solve.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The science of biotechnology has been pushing the frontiers of human knowledge and intellectual property (“IP”) for three decades. As scientists developed techniques for isolating and creating genetic material and began to apply them commercially, a new industry grew and so did its appetite for patent protection. Although the wisdom of granting patents on DNA is still debated, the policy of OECD countries to allow such patents has been fairly well settled for some time. The door was therefore open for biotechnological innovators to create a flood of IP, and they did
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Industrial Policy, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: France has high productivity per hour worked and a sophisticated social welfare system, but it also suffers from low labour force participation and high structural un employment. This poor labour market performance contributes to a persistent budget deficit which is exacerbating, rather than alleviating, the fiscal pressures arising from ageing. Rising public debt threatens fiscal sustainability. It is partly a result of insufficient public expenditure control an d insufficient public understanding of the need to meet long-run challenges as well as short-term targets. Aspects of the labour code designed to protect employees, and some aspects of the system of social transfers have had some unintended but perverse consequences leading to structurally high levels of unemployment and low participation rates. Dynamism and growth of activity and employment are held back by a lack of competition in a large number of service sectors.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, France
  • Publication Date: 06-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Swedish economy has undergone impressive changes and has delivered a remarkable surge in productivity since the mid-1990s. Consequently, per capita incomes are slowly making up the ground lost in earlier decades. Labour market performance, however, has been less inspiring. Employment rates have yet to recover to their 1990 peaks and hours of work need to increase to support the welfare state.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Sweden
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Austrian economy has demonstrated the capacity to take advantage of positive external developments. Important challenges remain, however, in two areas: Fiscal performance needs to be improved despite substantial progress in securing the sustainability of government finances: government debt is still relatively high, fiscal consolidation also incorporates significant one-off measures and fiscal federal relations are often inefficient. Trend growth is still held back by low labour force participation of older workers – also a potential source of future growth deceleration, high seasonal inactivity, relatively weak productivity growth in the services and a sub-optimal environment for innovation activities.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Biodiversity – the variety of life and of habitats on Earth – is vital to human welfare. The loss or degradation of biodiversity can have important economic, environmental, and social consequences. Altering a watershed (the area draining into a common waterway), for example, not only leads to the potential loss of an ecosystem – through loss of habitat – but may also create economic costs for water filtration in cities using its water.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Environment, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Over the past two decades, governments battling budget pressures and public perceptions of civil servants as under-worked and overpaid have been seeking ways to make the public service perform better. Alongside government re-organisation and privatisation of services such as telecommunications and water, governments have been modernising the management of their civil servants.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: A modest recovery is under way. A recovery has been under way since early 2004 and is expected to proceed at a moderate pace in 2005 and 2006, with domestic demand continuing to rise faster than GDP. Real growth is projected to remain somewhat slower than the EU average. The gap in consumer price inflation is expected to widen again in 2006. The current-account deficit has increased and export market share losses were substantial until recently. Employment growth has been impressive throughout the slowdown, but the growth of productivity, including that of total factor productivity, has been very weak.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: K. Fukasaku, M. Kawai, M.G. Plummer, A. Trzeciak-Duval
  • Publication Date: 05-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The East Asian development experience needs to be better understood — especially the region's clustered, sequential development process and neighbourhood effects linking economies at different levels of industrial development. How have different policy vectors transmitted by OECD countries, notably in the areas of trade, investment and aid, contributed to the development of the region? To what extent have the impacts of OECD-country policies depended on the capacity of East Asian economies to respond through their own public policies?
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Israel, East Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In the past two decades, new forms of public sector management, privatisation and new technologies have changed the way the public sector operates, but have also created a need for new ways of making both agencies and governments accountable for what they do. With an increasingly devolved public sector, ensuring conformity with government policy objectives, control of expenditure and monitoring of actual agency performance has become increasingly complex. At the same time, the changing relationship between government and the public sector has profoundly affected the traditional accountability of ministers to the legislature
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Reforming pensions is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. All OECD countries have to adjust to the ageing of their populations and re-balance retirement income provision to keep it adequate and ensure that the system is financially sustainable.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: All OECD governments attach importance to combating poverty and exclusion, and for good reason. Poverty and exclusion are evidence of a society that wastes human resources, opportunities and life-chances, both now and for the future. Failure to tackle the poverty and exclusion facing millions of families and their children is not only socially reprehensible, but will also weigh heavily on countries' capacity to sustain economic growth in years to come.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Human Welfare, Poverty
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Spanish economy has enjoyed many years of brisk growth and has recovered swiftly from the recent international slowdown. Activity has been boosted by low interest rates and strong job creation, and underpinned by structural reforms and a sound fiscal policy. As a result, the income gap with the euro area steadily narrowed. However, tensions have arisen that could undermine the strong growth performance as inflation is relatively high, eroding competitiveness, while the surge in house prices does not yet show signs of abating. Also productivity gains have remained meagre and unemployment is still high.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Spain
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Demand for long-term care for older people is set to rise steeply in OECD countries as the baby-boom generation reaches old age. But can they be sure of receiving quality care at a price they can afford? People in need of long term care increasingly demand high-quality care, and differences in the quality and availability of such services across OECD countries show some are not getting it. How can governments in OECD countries respond to the growing demand for these services? What do they need to do to improve access to long-term care, improve quality of services and make care affordable?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Government, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Are work and family life compatible? All too often parents find it impossible to balance employment and care commitments. As a result, it is becoming increasingly common to start a family later, have fewer children or have no children at all. Alternatively some parents may choose to temporarily or permanently stop working, despite the fact that they would like to have jobs, because of time constraints, no access to affordable childcare or difficulties in resuming their careers after childbirth.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The dominant challenge for Belgium in the years to come is to prepare for population ageing. This entails putting in place policies to attenuate its effects on economic growth and public finances. The few years left before large numbers of baby boomers retire provide a window of opportunity to push ahead with such policies and so preserve the essential elements of the system of social protection. First, further budget consolidation is required to put public finances on a sustainable path. Second, reforms are needed to increase employment rates, especially for the older working age-population, school leavers and ethnic minorities, and to slow the decline in working time. Finally, reforms are required to raise productivity growth.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 03-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: This Survey's general assessment is that Brazil is currently reaping the benefits of macroeconomic consolidation, underpinned by a prudent policy stance. Much progress has been made in fiscal consolidation and monetary policy continues to be conducted in a forward- looking manner. The external adjustment has been remarkable, with continued strong export performance, making the economy more resilient to changes in market sentiment. These achievements owe much to the strengthening of institutions, in particular the inflation targeting framework and the Fiscal Responsibility legislation. The economic recovery is now firmly established. But the consolidation of macroeconomic stability remains essential moving forward, coupled with further structural reform, to ensure that the positive outlook ushers in a virtuous circle of improved confidence and resilient, equitable growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Brazil, South America
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments are under increasing pressure to open up to public scrutiny, to be more accessible to the people who elected them and more responsive to their demands and needs. Indeed, an open government that meets all these requirements is increasingly recognised as an essential ingredient for de mocratic governance, social stability and economic development.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Denmark has been near the top of the OECD's income rankings for many years. It has the most equal income distribution among member countries, partly because of its comprehensive welfare state. Given an ageing population, the key economic challenge is to maintain growth in living standards while preserving the welfare system. To achieve this, Denmark will need to raise labour supply and productivity growth. If they do not improve from here, the growth rate of per capita GDP will be dragged down to just ½ per cent per annum within a couple of decades.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Iceland's impressive economic performance has continued to show the benefits of the refocusing of policies on financial stabilisation and market liberalisation in the 1990s. The most recent recovery, which began in 2003, has been much more vigorous than expected, as buoyant household demand has reinforced the stimulatory effect of the large-scale aluminium-related investment projects underway. Imbalances in the economy – specifically, the large current account deficit and inflation pressures – have mounted and – with GDP growth averaging over 5% in 2004-06 – they may well be similar in size to those seen in the last overheating episode in 2000-01, which resulted in a mild recession. Limiting instability over the next few years is a demanding task for macroeconomic policymakers, and efforts underway in this regard need to be strengthened. There are also challenges for structural policies, notably with respect to the proper assessment of future investment projects and in the environ-mental area. In a longer-term perspective, sustaining the faster productivity growth that structural reforms in the 1990s have brought about will require further action, especially in the education and competition policy fields.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Danmark har i mange år ligget nær toppen på OECD's rangliste over BNP pr. indbygger. Danmark har den mest lige indkomstfordeling blandt medlemslandene, delvist so m følge af dets vidtfavnende velfærdsstat. I lyset af befolkningsaldringen er den primære økonomiske udfordring at fastholde væksten i levestandarden og samtidig bevare velfærdssystemet. For at opnå dette er det nødvendigt at øge arbejdsudbuddet og væksten i produktiviteten. Uden forbedringer på disse to områder vil væksten i BNP pr. indbygger fa lde til blot ½ procent om året i løbet af et par årtier.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Recent and prospective performance is good. The Australian economy is still benefiting from the programme of widespread and deep reforms that started in the 1980s and was especially intensive in the 1990s. These made it easier to set macro policies in a stability-oriented medium-term framework. The combination resulted in a thirteen year long economic expansion accompanied by low inflation, high resilience to external and domestic shocks, and very healthy public finances. The short term outlook is for continuing brisk low- inflationary growth.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Publication Date: 01-2005
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The strengthening of the economy has raised hopes that Japan is emerging from a decade of stagnation. Output has been increasing at a more than 2 per cent annual rate since 2002, reflecting strong external demand and the progress made in corporate restructuring and economic reform. However, Japan still faces a number of serious headwinds to sustained growth, notably entrenched deflation and continued declines in bank lending and land prices. Meanwhile, the government's financial position continues to deteriorate, raising concerns about fiscal sustainability at the same time that population ageing is increasing demands for public spending. Addressing these challenges requires a combination of well-designed macroeconomic policies and structural measures to boost the growth potential and ensure rising living standards in the face of rapid population ageing.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Publication Date: 12-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Official export credit agencies (ECAs) support exports, much of which support goes to emerging economies, by providing loan guarantees, export credit insurance and direct loans. In 2002, the amount of business covered by such support was approximately USD 50 billion. Typically, officially supported export credits are provided to enable recipient countries to fund major capital goods and projects exported by the home country of the ECA, such as roads, mining, railways or airports.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Following accession to the European Union the big issue for the Czech Republic is to strengthen growth prospects. Growth potential at present is somewhat above 3 per cent, implying a moderate pace of catch-up to living standards in the EU and elsewhere. There is room for greater ambition in growth performance, and it is welcome to see this reflected in the programme of the new Czech government. This Survey underscores four main challenges. Fiscal consolidation is the dominant challenge for macroeconomic policy, and is not only necessary to cope with ageing and to bring down the tax burden but is also needed to fulfil euro-area entry conditions. A welcome programme of fiscal reform has begun, including proposals for a system of multi-year aggregate spending ceilings and significant expenditure cuts. However, to date, mainly revenue-raising measures have been implemented while the full impact of expenditure measures is yet to be realised. The attempt to secure broad political consensus on pension reform is commendable, but it must be underscored that whatever reform is finally implemented, it will have to bring considerable fiscal savings. Health-care reform also has to deliver savings, but concrete proposals have yet to be made. To facilitate assessment of the true fiscal position, extra-budgetary funds need to be more fully integrated in mainstream government budgeting procedures. Also, with the further decentralisation of public services, the need for good budgeting practices and accountability in regional and municipal governments is all the more important. The Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance have formulated a transparent strategy for entering the euro area, that foresees minimising the time spent in ERM II. Annual reports will assess the economic conditions in relation to the Maastricht Criteria and a request to enter ERM II will only being made if the probability of a positive first assessment by the EU authorities is high. The choice of a 3 per cent inflation target for the run-up to euro entry is justifiable on medium-term grounds. However there may be some difficulty communicating the consistency of this target with the Maastricht criterion for price stability. The Czech authorities should therefore pay close attention to how the Maastricht criteria are interpreted and applied by the European Commission and the ECB and adjust their communication strategy accordingly. Most of the catch-up in living standards will have to come from boosting productivity growth. This means swifter re-allocation of resources across firms as well as stronger in-firm productivity growth. While the Czech Republic is a strong competitor for attracting foreign direct investment, policy towards poorly performing firms and business start-ups has problems, slowing down the exit and entry of firms. Bankruptcy procedures are cumbersome, often long and usually end up in liquidation, with asset stripping not uncommon. Reforms have long-since been planned, and it is welcome that new legislation looks finally set to go ahead. The legislation aims at strengthening the role of creditors, speeding up proceedings and allowing composition to play a bigger role. Likewise, efforts to streamline business registration are welcome and should be implemented as soon as possible. The general business climate is also damaged by issues in network industry competition, as some services, notably internet, are expensive in international comparison. Mobility between jobs and regions is weak. Administrative extensions of collective wage agreements, strict employment protection legislation (EPL) on individual dismissals, rent control, severe poverty traps (particularly for families) and a high tax wedge have contributed to considerable long-term unemployment. The Roma population is hit especially hard in this respect. Migration is to some extent mitigating the labour-market rigidities with Slovaks filling skilled vacancies and other eastern Europeans (mainly Ukrainians) taking up unskilled jobs that are unattractive for locals. Tackling the unemployment problem requires measures across a wide front, but most notably social benefit reform is needed along with reduction in the tax wedge as well as easing of EPL. The widespread social and economic exclusion of the Roma needs more attention, particularly in the education system. A more open immigration policy is needed to address immediate issues such as the inconsistency between granting work permits as well as for better alignment of immigrants' skills with those needed on the Czech labour market.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Czech Republic
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: When the Russian Federation began its transition toward a market based economy, promoting competition and regulating anticompetitive behavior - issues never previously needing to be addressed - arose as new and unfamiliar subjects for state policymaking and law enforcement activities. In order to address these issues, the Russian Federation created a competition authority and basic law in 1991, quite early in its transition period. Support for competition was expressed in the 1993 Constitution, as well as in other fundamental legislation. As part of a larger study of regulatory reform, the OECD in 2003 undertook a detailed assessment of Russia fs decade of experience with competition law and policy. The Report concludes that despite early legislation on the issue and strong expressions of support for competition in the laws, the creation and protection of competition on domestic markets has not been a policy priority. Emphasis on rapid privatization limited the scope of pre-privatization restructuring to promote competition and the competition authority has been expected to serve as a general regulator of behavior in markets, assigned to fill legislative gaps and to enforce against a variety of undesirable practices in markets. Overly broad responsibilities and a lack of credible sanctions have significantly limited the impact of the competition laws.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Publication Date: 11-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Performance – improving it and measuring it – has pre-occupied governments for at least half a century. Over the past two decades, public sector performance has taken on special urgency as OECD countries have faced recessions, mounting demands for more and better public services, and, in some countries, citizens increasingly unwilling to pay higher taxes. Accompanying these pressures have been demands for more public accountability.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Mexico City's spectacular growth into one of the world's largest metropolitan regions is giving way to new development dynamics. The Metropolitan Area of Mexico City (MAMC), with a population of approximately 18.4 million people, is undergoing two main transitions: first, from high population growth to relative demographic stability and spatial redistribution, and second, from a declining manufacturing economy focused on national markets to one based on services competing internationally.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: North America, Mexico
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Economic performance has been solid, and macroeconomic policies are appropriate. The economy is expected to expand by close to 3.5 per cent in 2005, and the output gap will soon be closed. Monetary stimulus should gradually be removed and the fiscal policy stance needs to remain neutral. The Canadian dollar appreciated sharply in 2003 and is now probably not far from its fundamental value. Canadian firms will need to continue to adjust by making efforts to improve productivity to maintain competitiveness. Policy makers should remain focussed on policies that enhance productivity growth across all sectors. With a sound macroeconomic framework and structural policies that are mostly conducive to a well functioning economy, the country is well placed to meet the challenges of an ageing population, namely, maintaining rises in living standards through strong rates of productivity growth and policies to attenuate the expected fall in hours worked on average across the whole population, and ensuring that public finances are sustainable, especially given pressures on health care outlays.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Turkey is at a crossroads. After hitting the most severe crisis of its recent history in 2000-2001, the economy bounced back and is now among the fastest growing economies in the OECD. A new institutional framework for monetary and fiscal policies as well as for product, labour and financial markets, infrastructure industries, and agricultural support opened a window of opportunity to escape from the three traps of low confidence, weak governance and high informality which underpinned the boom and bust cycle of the past and to embark durably on a higher growth path. Success will depend on fully implementing and completing the new policy framework.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The textile and clothing industries provide employment for tens of million of people, primarily in developing countries, and accounted for USD 350 billion in merchandise exports in 2002, or 5.6% of the world total. The current rules governing world trade in textiles and clothing will change drastically at the end of 2004, when countries will no longer be able to protect their own industries by means of quantitative restrictions on imports of textile and clothing products. What will this mean for cotton growers in Burkina Faso and Turkey, fashion retailers in France and the United States, or shirt factories in Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic or China?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, United States, China, Turkey, France
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The amount of time people spend at work is a key element in several economic and social challenges facing industrial countries, notably those associated with population ageing. OECD governments will need to bring more people into the labour force and keep them there in coming years as the ratio of older to younger people rises if they wish to maintain living standards and finance social protection. One way of doing that is to make working time more flexible. For example, part-time jobs can make it easier for mothers with young children to combine working and parenting. More flexible working hours can also help firms adjust to changing workloads.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Improving the income situation of farm households remains a prominent objective of agricultural policies in many OECD countries. Concerns are often expressed in response to year over year declines in national farm income levels or to fluctuating world commodity prices. Increasingly, however, attention is moving away from such partial indicators of household well-being towards a more comprehensive concept of farm household income which encompasses all income sources available to family members as well as their accumulated wealth.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Civil Society, Development, Economics
  • Publication Date: 10-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The transformation of the Finnish economy over the last decade represents one of the few examples of the "new economy" taking hold in Europe. Output and productivity growth over the second half of the 1990s was among the highest in the OECD, and the recovery from the global downturn has been much stronger than for the euro area as a whole. However, imminent population ageing threatens to expose weaknesses in the labour market. Demographic developments, which over past decades have been broadly neutral, could reduce the growth rate of GDP per capita by 1/4 of a percentage point per annum over the remainder of this decade and by almost 1 percentage point over the next decade. This, combined with the likelihood of smaller productivity gains in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, a continuation of falling ICT prices as well as the mediocre performance in the sheltered sectors, threatens the future growth of living standards. Within a decade, and in the absence of further policy changes, these developments together could imply that Finland not only loses its top performer status but could face a protracted period of slow growth, as illustrated in the following scenario.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe