France, so famed for its universities and grandes écoles, has been a middling performer when it comes to 15-year-olds taking the so-called PISA tests. These tests measure competence among this age group right across the planet. Has social economic background a role to play in France's not-so-satisfactory scorecard? This interesting if technical economics paper takes a look at this aspect of French class.
And here's a pretty decent paper exploring how welfare reforms have proceeded in the UK, in light of the objectives of providing a safety net, promoting employment and protecting vulnerable people. The authors find that skill deficiencies are holding back employment and leading to inequality. Indeed, the number of young people not in employment, education or training (so called NEETs) has been rising and is among the highest in Europe.
If you are interested in leading examples of clean energy, here's an excellent example, presented by a national leader, President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson of Iceland, to OECD ambassadors last February. As the president points out, up to the 1970s Iceland was classified by the UNDP as a developing country. It's economy has improved greatly since the crisis started, and it is leading in clean energy too.
International attention is slowly turning to the millennium development goals, and the effect the crisis in OECD countries can have on poverty. On bright spot is water, as the chart in this story shows: international development aid pouring into water and sanitation has risen since 2001, by 5% on average, adjusted for inflation. In 2009-10, total annual average aid commitments to water and sanitation amounted to US$8.3 billion, some 7% of all aid that is allocated to sectors. Sub-Saharan Africa received over a quarter of that aid, and South and Central Asia 21%.
Final development aid figures for 2011 are now out on OECD.org: showing US$134 billion, 0.31% of donors' gross national income, meaning quite stable compared to recent years, which given the crisis is not a mean achievement. See these active charts.
The Friday fish #14 ©OECD Observer, 22 March 2013