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  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: There is widespread concern that poor water management will be one of the major factors limiting sustainable development during the next few decades. Water shortages are common in many regions, and are exacerbated by the pollution or degradation of many water bodies. There are conflicting demands for available water resources, both between human, economic, and ecosystem needs and between regions sharing a single water basin, in some cases leading to geopolitical security threats. World population roughly doubled over the last 50 years, while water consumption worldwide quadrupled. With urban populations growing faster than rural populations, the financial pressures on urban water utilities are intensifying.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 02-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: OECD countries spend at least twice as much on disability-related programmes as they spend on unemployment. Disability benefits on average account for more than 10 percent of total social spending. In the Netherlands, Norway and Poland they reach as much as 20 percent.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Human Welfare, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Political Geography: Norway, Poland, Netherlands
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The OECD recognises the valuable contribution that civil society can make to the public policy-making process, and attaches great importance to the Organisation's own consultation and dialogue with civil society organisations (CSOs). This continuing dialogue builds trust in public institutions and promotes public understanding of the benefits and challenges of global economic and social change.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Non-Governmental Organization
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The on-going structuring of the Greater Helsinki Region (GHR) should be encouraged by the central government. Managing the growth of the Helsinki region is crucial to avoid urban sprawl and the waste of resources, especially in the long run. With priorities for the Greater Helsinki Region identified, there is room to negotiate a general agreement between the central government and municipalities of the GHR. This agreement should receive large publicity and raise a debate in Parliament as the goal is to reassess both the role and the dependence of Helsinki upon the rest of the country, i.e. how can Finland develop as a whole by making better use of the motor, Helsinki.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Author: Derek Blades, David Roberts
  • Publication Date: 11-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Strictly speaking, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is only a measure of economic activity, but in practice it is often used to compare the relative wellbeing of countries as well as their overall economic performance. To measure the latter, users normally look at the rates of growth of GDP, while for comparing relative wellbeing the levels of GDP percapita are used. The absolute level of GDP is also used for calculating policy-relevant indicators such as the ratio of government deficit to GDP, the ratio of R expenditure to GDP and the ratio of carbon dioxide emissions to GDP.
  • Topic: Economics, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Andreas Schleicher, Claudia Tamassia
  • Publication Date: 06-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: How well do school systems perform in providing young people with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills, and in preparing them for life and learning beyond school? International comparisons of the outcomes of education systems have in the past been elusive. While it has been possible to compare basic structural characteristics of educational programmes and qualifications across countries, such as their entry requirements, their labour-market destination or typical patterns of student participation (see OECD, 1999b), there are no agreed standards that would allow to compare the level of content and quality of the underlying educational activities and services. It is thus difficult to make inferences regarding the knowledge and skills individuals have actually attained from such comparisons. Moreover, knowledge and skills are acquired not just through formal education but also, and increasingly, through formal and informal learning outside regular educational programmes. However, since 1997 governments of the OECD have been working on establishing a comparative framework to assess how well their education systems meet core objectives. The result has been the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the most comprehensive and rigorous international effort to date to assess learning outcomes and to identify the policy levers that may help improving the performance of education systems.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Author: Paul Schreyer, Francette Koechlin
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: How does one compare economic data between countries that is expressed in units of national currency? And in particular, how should measures of production and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) be converted into a common unit? One answer to this question is to use market exchange rates. While straightforward, this turns out to be an unsatisfactory solution for many purposes – primarily because exchange rates reflect so many more influences than the direct price comparisons that are required to make volume comparisons. Purchasing Power Parities (PPPs) provide such a price comparison and this is the rationale for the work of the OECD and other international organisations in this field (see chart 1). The OECD publishes new sets of benchmark PPPs every three years, drawing on detailed international price comparisons. Every time a new set of benchmark PPPs is released, this also gives rise to a new set of international comparisons of levels of GDP and economic welfare.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Author: Paul Schreyer
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: A major event in early 2002 was the arrival of the euro banknotes and coins and the withdrawal of the existing twelve national currencies from circulation. The event has influenced every citizen in the euro area and is clearly a historic change. It heralds a new phase in forging an “ever closer union among the peoples of Europe”. In economic terms, however, the introduction in January 1999 of the single currency after determining the irrevocably fixed exchange rates of the national currencies with the euro was a more important event. It meant that decisions on monetary policy moved from national central banks to the Governing Council of the European Central Bank. This Statistics Brief highlights some of the consequences for economic statistics of the creation of the euro area.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Andreas Lindner, Bill Cave, Lydia Deloumeaux, Joscelyn Magdeleine
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: International trade statistics play a vital part in OECD's monitoring, analysis and projections of macroeconomic developments in individual economies and the world economy. In response to these needs, OECD's Secretariat manages three trade in goods and services databases of which a very large merchandise trade database.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: In its sixth year of expansion, the Dutch economy has continued to perform well, with strong real GDP growth and job creation. But some tensions have appeared, and inflation is close to the upper limit of price stability as defined by the European Central Bank. The outlook is broadly favourable as GDP growth is expected to slow only moderately: this would provide a welcome cooling-off of the economy. However, fiscal policy needs to remain particularly vigilant concerning the risk of overheating, and stand ready to tighten promptly, within the budgetary framework, if so needed. A major challenge facing the authorities is to deal with the important unfinished agenda in the structural area through speeding up the process of structural reform. The announced income tax reform is particularly necessary, not only to improve fiscal efficiency and equity, but also to redress incentives to work. This would enhance labour market policies aimed at increasing the outflow from social security schemes, and would boost the active labour force and potential output. Other necessary actions include reforming the health care system and introducing more market forces in public transport and some other former public utilities. Taking advantage of the favourable conjunctural situation, the authorities should move ahead forcefully along all these lines, thereby contributing to the continuation of strong job creation in an environment of sustainable economic growth.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Netherlands
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The economic crisis of 1998 has victimised a number of important areas of institutional development and increased social distress among much of the population. A responsible fiscal and monetary response to the crisis, bolstered by a strengthened current account, has helped to stabilise inflation and the exchange rate, although the low level of reserves, the demands of foreign debt service, and threats to the independence of the Central Bank speak for the continued fragility of the achieved level of stability. A restructuring of foreign debt is critical for consolidating trends in the fiscal sphere. While the quick onset of a recovery in GDP in the wake of the weaker rouble is encouraging, delays in structural reforms and low administered input prices raise concern about the quality and sustainability of this growth. The restructuring and regulation of the commercial banking sector continues to pose major challenges to the Central Bank and the Russian government. Throughout a decade of transition, problems in demonetisation and fiscal federalist relations, the particular focus of this Survey, have been important underlying structural obstacles to economic reform. Although some institutional reforms have provided a foundation for a market economy, delays in addressing these and other fundamental problems have impeded efficiency and increased the comparative vulnerability of the Russian economy to external shocks. The future stability and growth of the Russian economy will require the continuation of responsible macroeconomic policies, but depends first and foremost on progress in structural reform, including tax reform, effective institutions of bankruptcy, competition, more decisive and comprehensive measures to combat the process of demonetisation, defend the rule of law, and realise fundamental reform in fiscal federalist relations.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The euro came into being under mixed auspices. On the one hand, convergence efforts in the run-up to monetary union, particularly in the fiscal area, had helped bring inflation and interest rates down to historically low levels. On the other hand, growth, which had only just started to recover in earnest after several disappointing years, was slowing down in the wake of a series of emerging market crises. The macroeconomic policy mix prevailing in 1999 combined monetary easing and modest fiscal consolidation. It contributed to sustain domestic demand, limiting the extent of the deceleration. With a brightening external environment, growth picked up vigorously in the second half of the year. In hindsight, the new regime's début is commendable, especially when recalling the gloomy predictions of some sceptics and taking into account that this first year has been a period of learning-by-doing for all agents. Major challenges lie ahead, however, both as regards long-run fiscal sustainability in the face of population ageing and as regards market structures. The policy tradeoffs facing European policymakers are harsher in some important ways than those confronting their counterparts across the Atlantic, because of deeply ingrained labour and product market rigidities. Those are being addressed in various ways, and tangible progress is being made. Nonetheless, reform efforts should be stepped up to raise economic performance significantly above the record of the 1990s.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Globalisation has become a key force of change in all OECD countries. It is making our economies more open, bringing new opportunities, new markets and new wealth. But it also demands more rapid adjustment to change. The accomplishment of strategic restructuring is often required, so that workers are not displaced or excluded from the labour market and so that no localities are left to lag behind or decline. In the new economic environment, policy-makers must help build dynamic and flexible regions and cities. They must assist the transition from individual closed local economic systems to a new, open global system. To do this, it is important to “think globally and act locally”.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Globalization, Government
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The new government has set itself the ambitious tasks of lowering unemployment, modernising the economy and the social system, and securing the long term viability of the budget and the health and pension systems. Ecological goals have been given equal prominence in order to ensure the environmental sustainability of economic development. In some fields there has been progress. However, the fiscal package needs to be fully implemented to put public finances on a sustainable path and to create a tax regime that is more business friendly. These policies should be underpinned by structural reforms that strengthen future growth prospects. Such policies can benefit both macroeconomic performance and future fiscal outcomes. While short-term growth prospects are already improving, unemployment remains a major problem. With respect to its strategy for reducing unemployment, the government is seeking to obtain consensus, inter-alia on an employmentfriendly wage policy, via round-table talks with the social partners. It is important that a consistent set of policy instruments emerge that establish clear links between policies and ultimate policy goals. For Germany to attain the employment, growth and environmental aims commensurate with its key position in the European economy, requires not only favourable macroeconomic conditions, including aggregate wage developments, but a policy emphasis which more effectively enhances labour-market flexibility, as well as structural reforms that strengthen individual initiative, economic choice and the role of competition. Since structural and macroeconomic policies tend to have synergies which make them mutually reinforcing, achieving a more flexible and dynamic use of resources will help to assure progress towards the country's social, budgetary, environmental and economic goals.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 12-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The Icelandic economy has expanded rapidly over the past five years, bringing output to well above its potential. Clear signs of overheating have emerged, with unemployment below 2 per cent, inflation picking up and a large current external deficit. These developments are projected to continue, raising the risks of a wage-price spiral and financial instability. To guard against such risks, a significant tightening of monetary policy is required, with less priority attached to the exchange rate as a target for policy. This should be complemented by a medium-term fiscal discipline aiming at achieving a structural budget surplus. Such a course would help cope with long-term care spending that will rise with ageing. On the other hand, except for government employees, pensions should not constitute a burden for public finances, as, for the main, they will be provided by the private sector. To enhance future growth prospects, it will be important to maintain and extend the fishing quota regime in the face of legal threats and to increase competitive forces, especially in the telecommunications industry.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iceland
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union brought the region's serious environmental problems to the attention of the international community. Although the countries in this vast area of the world are remarkably diverse, central economic planning had created a common pattern of environmental problems. Notable among these problems were levels of industrial pollution that, in many places, threatened human health; widespread land and water degradation (particularly in the former Soviet Union); and the persistent neglect of nuclear safety and nuclear waste management.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Environment
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Soviet Union
  • Publication Date: 10-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Never before have so many countries at such different levels of development been involved in so much activity aimed at progressively rolling back obstacles to freer trade and investment. Yet, paradoxically, at no time during the post-war period has the prospect of further liberalisation generated so much public anxiety, not least within those countries that built much of their prosperity on a liberal trade and investment order.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, Government, International Trade and Finance, Sovereignty
  • Publication Date: 07-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The goal of a large number of criminal acts is to generate a profit for the individual or group that carries out the act. Money laundering is the processing of these criminal proceeds to disguise their illegal origin. This process is of critical importance, as it enables the criminal to enjoy these profits without jeopardising their source.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 06-1999
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Twice a year, in June and December, the OECD publishes its Economic Outlook (EO), which contains projections for a number of key economic variables over a two to two and a half-year horizon.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 06-1998
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Population ageing in OECD countries over the coming decades could threaten future growth in prosperity. Governments should take action now across a broad range of economic, financial and social policies to ensure the foundations for maintaining prosperity in an ageing society. While reforms are already underway, much deeper reforms will be needed to meet the challenges of population ageing.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance