The facts of life

OECD Factbook 2005: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
OECD Observer

The OECD Factbook 2005, the OECD’s first annual digest of economic, environmental and social statistics covering the OECD’s 30 member nations, brings together in a single publication 100 indicators that are essential to evaluating the relative position of any OECD country, both at a given moment and over time, with historical data going back at least 10 years.

Depending on area of interest, information is laid out for the diehard data enthusiast as well as the casual reader, and goes further than just providing facts and figures, by explaining what’s behind the numbers.

Environmentalists may be surprised to find that one of the countries with the smallest populations, Iceland, has the highest ratios of energy supply per capita. The OECD Factbook 2005 explains that this is due to climate factors and the availability of cheap, non-polluting, thermal energy from hot springs.

Coming perhaps as no surprise, the US is the largest member country in terms of total GDP, with 2002 GDP of $10,429 billion exceeding the combined GDP of the 15 members of the EU. In 1990, however, the reverse was true.

And while Norway and Sweden may have the highest female employment rates of all OECD countries, the percentage of workingage women in jobs has been growing fastest in Ireland, Spain and the Netherlands.

R&D expenditure, a key indicator of government and private sector efforts to obtain competitive advantage in science and technology, has increased relative to GDP in the three main OECD regions over the past three years. In 2001, Iceland, Japan, Finland and Sweden were the only four OECD countries in which the R&D/GDP ratio exceeded 3%, well above the OECD average of 2.3%.

And under the category “Quality of Life”, highlighted issues include obesity (asked face-to-face, 22% of Americans admit to being obese, whereas just 3% of Koreans and 4% of Japanese do) and the number of hours worked (down sharpest in France, Ireland, Japan and Portugal; Denmark, Greece and Sweden were the only three to post increases). Whether this really measures quality of life is another issue.

©OECD Observer No 248, March 2005

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Globalisation’s many benefits have been unequally shared, and public policy has struggled to keep up with a rapidly-shifting world. The OECD is working alongside governments and international organisations to help improve and harness the gains while tackling the root causes of inequality, and ensuring a level playing field globally. Please watch.
  • Read some of the insightful remarks made at OECD Forum 2017, held on 6-7 June. OECD Forum kick-started events with a focus on inclusive growth, digitalisation, and trust, under the overall theme of Bridging Divides.
  • Checking out the job situation with the OECD scoreboard of labour market performances: do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?
  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017