Focus on an inclusive recovery

The hidden pandemic

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20/07/2021
As countries weather the COVID-19 health emergency, high-quality connectivity, more than ever, is essential to ensure that economic activities can continue in a remote manner. However, important disparities in terms of connectivity persist, aggravating the consequences of the health emergency. Therefore, policies aiming to reduce connectivity divides are of paramount importance. This report explores policies and regulations in OECD countries that have proven successful to work towards closing connectivity divides. It offers a roadmap to policy makers on the overarching policies and regulatory measures to expand connectivity, as well as the tailored approaches to extend broadband networks in rural and remote areas.
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12/07/2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred perhaps the largest expansion of social protection systems in seventy years. Yet many people are still deeply affected by the crisis and are calling for even more help. Drawing on 25 000 responses across 25 OECD countries, the 2020 Risks that Matter survey finds that people are worried about keeping their jobs, paying the bills and staying healthy. Almost seven out of ten respondents say that their government should be doing more to ensure their economic and social security, and many are willing to pay more in taxes to support this. The perspectives presented in this report offer important lessons for how to expand and reform social protection as our societies and economies slowly start to recover from the pandemic.
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07/07/2021
The 2021 edition of the OECD Employment Outlook focusses on the labour market implications of the COVID‑19 crisis. Chapters 1-3 concentrate on the main labour market and social challenges brought about by the crisis and the policies to address them. Chapters 4-5 cover long-standing structural issues but also discuss their relevance and implications for the COVID-19 crisis. More specifically, Chapter 1 monitors the impact of the crisis on the labour market, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups in the medium and long term. Chapter 2 provides a preliminary assessment of the role of job retention schemes in preserving jobs during the COVID-19 crisis. Chapter 3 analyses how active labour market policies and public employment services have responded to the challenges posed by the crisis. Chapter 4 assesses the extent and consequences of domestic outsourcing for the labour market in general, and for low-wage occupations in particular. Chapter 5 provides a detailed review of statutory and negotiated regulations governing working time – including teleworking – as well as an overview of trends in working time patterns and time use across OECD countries and socio-demographic groups.
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30/06/2021
Since its first edition in 2010, the OECD Development Centre's Perspectives on Global Development report has tracked development trends and policy priorities in developing countries. This new report examines the phenomenon of discontent. Between the global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, discontent surged around the world. It was especially evident in middle-income countries and was often most acute amongst the middle classes that have emerged in developing countries over recent decades. The report explores the economic, political and sociological drivers of discontent and argues that building back better from the COVID-19 pandemic in developing countries will require approaches that simultaneously improve citizens' well-being, promote productive transformation and strengthen social cohesion. The report concludes by examining the international dimension of discontent and demonstrates how weaknesses and imbalances in the present multilateral system are eroding humankind's capacity for collective action in the face of global threats, notably the climate crisis. The rise in discontent has exposed failings in prevailing economic, social and political models at all levels: addressing discontent means fixing these systems, and doing so in an inclusive and sustainable manner.
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30/06/2021
Current population trends and the COVID-19 pandemic reinforce the need for efficient public service provision while guaranteeing good access to all. Population decline and ageing in rural regions affect the provision of services through lower economies of scale and scope, professional shortages and longer distances. Reliable estimates of the costs and access arising from demographic and geographical differences can help adapt the provision of services to different territorial realities. This report provides internationally comparable fine-grained present and future estimates of the cost and physical access to education (primary and secondary) and health services (cardiology, maternity and obstetrics) in European countries. The report finds that demographic change in the next decades will likely further strain the trade-off between costs and access, especially in remote rural areas. Adapting to changes in demand following lower fertility rates and ageing implies that services will need to become more widely available, while others will have to concentrate more. This report aims to support evidence-based policy decisions to ensure service provision allows for both cost efficiency and a sufficient level of access in all territories.
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28/06/2021
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs have been hit hard during the COVID-19 crisis. Policy responses were quick and unprecedented, helping cushion the blow and maintain most SMEs and entrepreneurs afloat. Despite the magnitude of the shock, available data so far point to sustained start-ups creation, no wave of bankruptcies, and an impulse to innovation in most OECD countries. However, government support has been less effective at reaching the self-employed, smaller and younger firms, women, and entrepreneurs from minorities. Countries were not all even in their capacity to support SMEs either. As vaccine campaigns roll out and economic prospects brighten, governments have to take the turn of a crisis exit and create the conditions to build back better. The OECD SME and Entrepreneurship Outlook 2021 brings new evidence on the impact of the crisis and policy responses on SMEs and entrepreneurs. It reflects on longer-term issues, such as SME indebtedness or SME role in more resilient supply chains or innovation diffusion. The report contains country profiles that benchmark impact, factors of vulnerability, and sources of resilience in OECD countries, and give a policy spotlight on liquidity support and recovery plans for SMEs.
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15/06/2021
Lifelong learning is key if individuals are to succeed in labour markets and societies shaped by megatrends such as increases in life expectancy, rapid technological changes, globalisation, migration, environmental changes and digitalisation, as well as sudden shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic. In a fast-changing and uncertain world, lifelong learning can help individuals adapt and become resilient to external shocks. While government support remains valuable to ensure that major structural changes do not lead to deep tears in the social fabric, creating a culture of lifelong learning gives individuals themselves agency to manage change. This calls for evidence on the best ways to support lifelong learning journeys, so that individuals can “learn how to learn”. This edition of the OECD Skills Outlook 2021 explores how policies, particularly those that govern skills development and use, can best promote lifelong learning for all. The report exploits comparative quantitative data to highlight the key role played by socio-emotional and motivational factors in shaping successful engagement with lifelong learning. While such factors are essential to sustain lifelong learning in general, the pandemic has further increased their relevance.
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08/06/2021
Mental ill-health affects millions of people, and drives economic costs of more than 4% of GDP. A good mental health system helps people stay in good mental health, and connects those in need to appropriate support to manage their mental health condition or even fully recover from it. However, mental health care has long been neglected and under-funded, and unmet need for care is still high. The long-lasting COVID-19 crisis and the toll it is taking on mental health has made mental health systems more important than ever. This timely report provides an in-depth analysis of how well countries are delivering the policies and services that matter for mental health system performance. The report highlights recent reforms countries have taken to strengthen mental health performance, including by increasing access to mental health care, ensuring that service users take the lead in planning and even delivering services, and prioritising integration and mental health promotion. The report also identifies promising approaches countries should pursue to better meet their populations’ mental health needs. This report sets up a framework for understanding mental health performance through internationally comparable indicators, an approach set to grow stronger still in the coming years as more data become available.
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26/05/2021
Informal employment, defined through the lack of employment-based social protection, constitutes the bulk of employment in developing countries, and entails a level of vulnerability to poverty and other risks that are borne by all who are dependent on informal work income. Results from the Key Indicators of Informality based on Individuals and their Households database (KIIbIH) show that a disproportionately large number of middle‑class informal economy workers receive remittances. Such results confirm that risk management strategies, such as migration, play a part in minimising the potential risks of informal work for middle‑class informal households who may not be eligible to social assistance. They further suggest that middle‑class informal workers may have a solvent demand for social insurance so that, if informality-robust social insurance schemes were made available to them, remittances could potentially be channelled to finance the extension of social insurance to the informal economy.
19/05/2021
This brief aims to support governments in designing gender-inclusive approaches to emergency management and recovery, building on OECD work and standards on gender equality in public life. Often due to pre-existing gender inequalities and socio-cultural norms, women have been disproportionately affected by the social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Building on information gathered from OECD members through an April 2020 survey and consultation with the Working Party on Gender Mainstreaming and Governance, the brief explores practices and challenges in accounting for gender-differentiated impacts and the economic inclusion of both men and women in government responses to the pandemic. It also looks at how countries can promote gender equality as part of the recovery process, including through the use of tools for planning, regulations, budgets and public procurement. Ultimately, this brief provides insights on creating conditions for emergency management and recovery that take into account the needs of both men and women.
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17/05/2021
This publication examines how to strengthen the scope and effectiveness of entrepreneurship policies for women. It examines both dedicated measures for women and ensuring that mainstream policies for all entrepreneurs are appropriate for women. Evidence is offered on the gender gap in entrepreneurship and its causes. At the heart of the report are 27 policy insight notes by leading international experts on the role of public policy in facilitating entrepreneurship by women and how policies can be strengthened. They highlight many long‑standing issues related to the scope and effectiveness of women’s entrepreneurship policies – many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID‑19 pandemic – and point the way to more effective policy. Issues addressed include fostering a gender‑sensitive entrepreneurship culture, building entrepreneurship skills for women, improving women’s access to financial capital, supporting networks for women entrepreneurs and creating supportive regulatory environments. Issues in the design and delivery of policy support are also addressed. The report was prepared by the OECD in collaboration with members of the Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Policy Research Project (Global WEP), a network of established researchers from over 30 counties.
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07/05/2021
Despite changes in social norms and policies, on average across 25 European countries, there remains a gap of around 15% in hourly earnings between similarly-qualified men and women. This raises inequality and limits growth by preventing women from reaching their full labour market potential. Using individual-level data, this paper quantifies the main drivers of gender wage gaps with a view to devising effective policies to reduce them. The findings suggest that, on average, “sticky floors” related to social norms, gender stereotyping and discrimination account for 40% of the gender wage gap, while the “glass ceiling” related to the motherhood penalty accounts for around 60%. The importance of the “glass ceiling” is especially large in most Northern and Western European countries, while “sticky floors” explain the major part of the gap in most Central and Eastern European countries. These results imply that most Northern and Western European countries need to prioritise policies to address the motherhood penalty, such as further promoting flexitime and telework and supporting early childcare. Most Central and Eastern European as well as Southern European countries, where “sticky floors” are more important, additionally need to prioritise equal pay and pay transparency laws, measures to address gender stereotyping, competition in product markets, as well as higher wage floors where they are currently low.
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04/05/2021
Literacy in the 21st century is about constructing and validating knowledge. Digital technologies have enabled the spread of all kinds of information, displacing traditional formats of usually more carefully curated information such as encyclopaedias and newspapers. The massive information flow of the digital era demands that readers be able to distinguish between fact and opinion. Readers must learn strategies to detect biased information and malicious content like fake news and phishing emails. What the PISA 21st-century readers report reveals is that students’ access to digital technologies and training on how to use them greatly vary between countries and students’ socio-economic profiles. This report explores how 15-year-old students are developing reading skills to navigate the technology-rich 21st century. It sheds light on potential ways to strengthen students’ capacity to navigate the new world of information. It highlights how countries need to redouble their efforts to combat emerging digital divides. It also explores what teachers can do to help students navigate ambiguity and manage complexity.
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29/04/2021
Active labour market policies (ALMPs) that connect people to jobs will help to ensure an equitable and sustained recovery from the COVID‑19 crisis. Already in 2020, many governments reacted swiftly to the crisis by increasing funding for their public employment services (PES), training programmes and measures to increase labour demand. This has allowed the PES to hire additional staff and expand remote and digital accessibility to ensure service continuity. However, additional resources are needed in 2021 and the years to come to ensure that high-quality employment services and programmes can be effective in fostering a quick reintegration of the many jobseekers into the labour market. This policy brief highlights how OECD and a number of other countries have responded to the crisis in adapting and expanding the provision of employment services.
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28/04/2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a global health tragedy. Yet as the world inches towards the end of the health crisis, another injury threatens to leave a more enduring scar: that of entrenched economic insecurity. The 2020 round of the OECD Risks that Matter survey presents a stark picture of economic disruption and rising worries about health and financial security across 25 OECD countries. Despite massive government investments in social protection during the pandemic, people in most OECD countries are looking for more public support to lift them out of the crisis – and many report a willingness to pay more in taxes in order to fund better health, pensions, employment and long-term care programmes.
30/03/2021
Achieving gender equality and tackling discriminatory laws, social norms and practices set a direct path toward a more inclusive economy and society. The SIGI 2021 Regional Report for Southeast Asia provides new evidence-based analysis on the setbacks and progress in achieving gender equality between 2014 and 2019 in 11 countries. The report uncovers the discrimination women face within social institutions in various dimensions; in the family and household context, in relation to physical integrity and access to productive and financial resources, as well within the political and civil spheres. The SIGI 2021 Regional Report for Southeast Asia explores the interaction between women’s empowerment and discriminatory social institutions by looking specifically at four core areas – health, education, the economic dimension and decision making. It also unveils the cost of discriminatory social institutions for Southeast Asian countries and the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for women and girls. Building on the regional analysis of how discriminatory social institutions continue to hinder efforts toward SDG 5, the report provides a set of policy recommendations to enhance governments’ efforts to deliver on their gender equality commitments by 2030.
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25/03/2021
This brief proposes estimates of the loss in on-the-job learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participation in informal learning due to widespread shutdowns of economic activities is estimated to have decreased by 25%. In the case of non-formal learning the estimate corresponds to 18%. This represents a notable amount of lost learning, and one which may not be easily recovered. Estimated learning losses are highly heterogeneous across sectors and individuals, and depend on the pervasiveness of shutdowns of economic activities. Workers employed in administrative and support service activities; in the arts, entertainment and recreation, are expected to lose, on average, nearly three-quarters of informal and non‑formal learning opportunities per week. Results also show that the pandemic likely led to fewer learning opportunities for disadvantaged and low-skilled workers who, in turn, are most likely going to need retraining.
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15/03/2021
The COVID-19 crisis has amplified the urgency of addressing together the dual challenges of inequality and environmental degradation. This paper contributes to the debate on the inequalities-environment nexus by analysing the consequences of the environmental degradation and of environmental policies on four well-being dimensions: health, income and wealth, work and job quality, and safety. The analysis shows that the impacts of environmental degradation tends to be concentrated among vulnerable groups and households. At the same, the benefits and costs of environmental policies are also likely to be unevenly distributed across households. In this context, policy packages for an inclusive green transition should aim at: (i) mitigating the possible regressive impact of pricing environmental externalities, (ii) investing in human capital and upgrading skills to facilitate labour reallocation, (iii) addressing systemic inequalities with sectoral and place-based policies, (iv) ensuring efficient and responsive governance. The paper concludes by highlighting the need for an effective framework to measure progress towards a people-centred green recovery, and possible areas of future work.
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10/03/2021
Labour market inequalities are well-known to be the main drivers of the gender pension gap. This publication focuses on helping governments find solutions for retirement savings arrangements that do not further exacerbate these inequalities. This study first analyses why the gender pension gap exists and sheds light on some of the behavioural and cultural factors that contribute to these inequalities. Country case studies assess how demographics, labour markets and other factors may affect gaps in pension coverage, assets and entitlements. The study then explores how the design of retirement savings plans affects men and women differently. Finally, it provides policy options to improve retirement savings outcomes for women and to help close the gender pension gap.
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10/03/2021
One year after the outbreak of the COVID‑19 crisis, the future looks certainly brighter but it is not yet time to withdraw policy support for people and companies. Even if the headline labour market figures in many countries look better than in Q2 2020, millions of workers are still on job retention schemes and millions of others are unemployed or underemployed. In the coming months, while countries prepare for the implementation of their recovery plans, it is essential to continue supporting families and companies still deeply affected by the crisis, while providing the right incentives for job creation and resuming work. Without these measures, the recovery would start from an even worse economic and social starting point. The short-term costs are high but they are much lower than the costs of mass bankruptcies, layoffs and a depressed economy and labour market. Furthermore, the short-term costs can be reduced by enhancing the targeting of support to the most vulnerable sectors, companies and households, while fostering start-ups and job creation.
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