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  • 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
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Health spending in OECD countries averages more than 8% of gross domestic product (GDP) and the share is rising. Overall, some threequarters of that spending is publicly financed. Private health insurance accounts, on average, for only a quarter of private-sector financing, although there is great cross-country variation. In a third of the OECD member countries at least 30% of the population has private health insurance, while market size is negligible in nearly as many countries. Private health insurance also plays a variety of roles, ranging from primary coverage for particular population groups to a supporting role for public systems.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Deregulating labour markets – for example making it easier for firms to hire and fire employees – is at the heart of the employment debate in many OECD countries. Laws on firing or layoffs and other employment protection regulations are thought by many to be a key factor in generating labour market "rigidity", as well as one reason for the large differences in labour market performance among OECD countries, notably between the United States and some of the larger European countries.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Convergence of the Portuguese economy toward the more advanced OECD economies seems to have halted in recent years, leaving a significant gap in per capita incomes. The proximate cause is low labour productivity, as employment rates across the board are substantially higher than the EU average. Nor is there a shortage of capital goods in aggregate. But capital equipment in the business sector is not always efficiently used or allocated, and new technologies are not readily adopted. Furthermore, the Portuguese labour force – even its younger members – have had less formal education than workers in other EU countries, including among the new entrants from Central and Eastern Europe, and workers in Portugal also have less access to training than in many other countries. Traditional Portuguese low value-added highly labourintensive products now face increasing competition from developing countries and from the new EU entrants.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Japan's Fair Trade Commission, created in 1947, is one of the oldest and largest competition law enforcement agencies in the world. Before the 1990s, though, competition had usually played a subordinate role in Japan's regulatory policies, while aspects of Japan's traditional approach to regulation had contradicted principles of modern competition policy. Over the past decade of reform in Japan, this attitude toward competition policy has been changing.
  • Topic: Development, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: Martin Grandes, Nicolas Pinaud
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Lowering interest rates and, thus, the cost of borrowing in the rand zone (Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and South Africa) is a priority to promote investment and economic growth. Local-currency interest rates in these countries are driven by those on rand-denominated transactions. Reducing the level and volatility of the rand premium would help reduce financing costs in the region. Policies should promote: enhancing financial-market liquidity; easier access to South African financial markets for African entities; domestic saving capacity; and the improvement of international perception of the rand. Johannesburg could become a financial "hub" for the region, channelling cheap resources to its neighbours.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia
  • Publication Date: 09-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Governments have always changed their structures to respond to new priorities in a changing society, or to improve the management of existing ones. They have also taken advantage of new capacities and better governance in society in general to put some of the functions previously performed in the core public service at arm's length, or even to privatise or contract them out.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Higher education has become increasingly international in the past decade as more and more students choose to study abroad, enrol in foreign educational programmes and institutions in their home country, or simply use the Internet to take courses at colleges or universities in other countries. This growth is the result of several different, but not mutually exclusive, driving forces: a desire to promote mutual understanding; the migration of skilled workers in a globalised economy; the desire of the institutions to generate additional revenues; or the need to build a more educated workforce in the home countries, generally as emerging economies.
  • Topic: International Relations, Civil Society, Education, Government
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The integrity of businesses and markets is central to the vitality and stability of our economies. So good corporate governance – the rules and practices that govern the relationship between the managers and shareholders of corporations, as well as stakeholders like employees and creditors – contributes to growth and financial stability by underpinning market confidence, financial market integrity and economic efficiency. Recent corporate scandals have focussed the minds of governments, regulators, companies, investors and the general public on weaknesses in corporate governance systems and the need to address this issue.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 08-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: With the effects of adverse external shocks diminishing, a strong and competitive export industry is helping the German economy out of a three-year period of near stagnation. Domestic demand has been declining over the last couple of years, as poor labour market performance has weighed on consumer sentiment and business confidence. The labour market still suffers from weak economic growth and distorted incentives, with both contributing to problems in taking up work and providing employment. Productivity growth is not high enough to compensate for the adverse effect of low labour utilization on economic growth. Fiscal targets have been missed on account of both cyclical and structural factors. The government has launched a major reform initiative to reinvigorate economic growth. These reforms are welcome, have to be continued and need to be broadened further to reduce government debt, remove fiscal distortions, and improve incentives to supply and demand labour. Furthermore, there remains considerable scope to foster the creation of new enterprises and widen product market competition, thereby also maintaining the strong innovative capacity of the economy. The major challenges are to link fiscal consolidation to public sector reform and to increase the capacity of the economy to create employment and increase productivity growth. To create confidence and to restore Germany's traditional economic strength it is necessary that reforms reflect a coherent vision about the reorientation of economic policy – combining a growth and stability oriented macroeconomic policy with structural reforms – and are implemented according to a transparent and predictable roadmap.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: When it comes to the nuts and bolts of government, OECD countries have one thing in common: a core public service. In other words, a centrally controlled bureaucracy made up of people working in ministries, departments and government agencies to carry out the business of government. Civil service structures have evolved around the idea that public employment is different from other types of work and therefore requires a special employment system and structure.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Government
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Knowledge management – how organisations track, measure, share and make use of intangible assets such as an employee's ability to think fast in a crisis – is increasingly important in a fast-changing knowledge society. Organisations have always managed knowledge, even if they did not use the term knowledge management. For example, a person experienced in operating or repairing a particular machine could pass their knowledge on to newcomers.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Education, Industrial Policy
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The euro area has shown disappointing resilience to shocks and its income gap against the best performing countries remains large and is widening. The differences between individual euro area countries are even more striking and the forces that influence convergence in economic performance across the area are largely the same as those that shape the economic performance of the area.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 07-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The major economic challenge facing Russia is the achievement of long-term, sustainable growth that would allow for a relatively rapid convergence between living standards in Russia and the OECD economies. The nature of this challenge is largely determined by Russia\'s economic structure. At present, Russia\'s economy is highly dependent on the export of a limited range of natural resources, chiefly hydrocarbons and metals. This presents policymakers with a number of specific problems. In particular, resource dependence makes the Russian economy especially vulnerable to external shocks. It is therefore difficult to overstate the importance of prudent macroeconomic policies, especially as the budget relies heavily on resource taxes and is thus influenced by volatile energy prices. Hence, exemplary fiscal discipline, in particular, is crucial to reducing Russia\'s vulnerability to commodity-price cycles. Yet while resource dependence brings with it certain macroeconomic risks, economic performance will continue to depend to a great extent on the performance of resource-exporting sectors for the foreseeable future. This makes reform of the natural gas sector an urgent priority. In the absence of substantial reform, the gas industry, which is critical to both exports and the domestic economy, could well stagnate or decline.
  • Topic: International Relations, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: OECD countries now have an average of 5-6 years of experience with competition in the telecommunications industry. The liberalisation process has been guided by principles such as minimising barriers to entry and ensuring that new entrants have access to essential services at non-discriminatory terms and conditions. Experience has now shown that the conventional understanding of these principles needs to be refined in order to ensure the on-going, long-term development of competition in the industry.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Industrial Policy, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Poland has made impressive progress in the transformation of its economy and the accession to the European Union on 1st May 2004 marks another historical event. It follows 15 years of profound change and accomplishment. More than 75 per cent of GDP is now produced in the private sector, the economy is well integrated with those of western European nations and inflation has been brought down to low levels. After an initial fall, output has been growing continuously for more than 10 years and, on average, Poles are much better off now than they were then. However, the striking drop in employment since 1998 is suggestive of serious remaining problems. To address these, much more needs to be done, notably in terms of raising productivity, expanding employment and increasing per capita income, which is 41 per cent of OECD levels.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Poland
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: OECD governments have a long history of pursuing agricultural policies, with objectives ranging from supporting farm incomes to securing safe food and environmental quality. Policy measures are equally varied, including instruments such as import tariffs, export subsidies and a host of different government payments to farmers. Many of these policies share the common feature that they transfer money to farmers, and thereby impact on production decisions, incomes, international trade and the environment.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Economics, Environment
  • Publication Date: 06-2004
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Korea has been one of the fastest growing economies in the OECD area over the past five years, with an annual growth rate of about 6 per cent. Such rapid growth, which has lifted per capita income to two-thirds of the OECD average, reflects Korea's underlying dynamism and its progress in implementing a wide-ranging reform programme in the wake of the 1997 crisis. However, the recession in 2003 – which was due in part to structural problems in the labour market and in the corporate and financial sectors – indicates that the reform agenda is unfinished. Sustaining rapid growth over the medium term as the contribution from inputs of labour and capital slows requires further progress in structural reform, particularly in the labour market and in the corporate and financial sectors, accompanied by appropriate macroeconomic policies.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Asia, Korea