Social view

Society at a Glance - OECD Social Indicators 2001

A common complaint heard at this time of the year is about the state of our education. Yet, spending on schools grew as fast as GDP in most OECD countries from 1990 to 1997, to an average of 6.1% of GDP. Nevertheless, while more than 60% of the working age population have completed at least upper secondary education, less than 10% of adults in Italy, Portugal and Turkey have a university diploma.

These are some of the facts to be gleaned from Society at a Glance, a new compilation of indicators on 45 issues of social concern, from literacy and employment to suicide and divorce. It looks at social developments in OECD countries and asks how policy can effectively address these trends.

More glimpses: Suicides have increased in OECD countries by more than 10% in the last 30 years. Divorce rates have tripled, from 14.3% in 1970 to an average of 41.2% in 1998. Drug use has also risen in most OECD countries, with some of the highest consumption of cannabis and amphetamines occurring in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Each indicator chosen for the book is backed up by explanation and analysis. This is useful, as it helps to understand national differences in social trends, as well as status indicators on areas like self-sufficiency, equity, health and social cohesion. It becomes clear, for instance, that addressing drug abuse means looking at related indicators, like potential years of life lost and suicide rates, as well as healthcare expenditure and crime aspects. The book runs into just over 100 pages, which shows that there is more to a glance than meets the eye.

©OECD Observer No 228, September 2001 

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