The Friday Fish

This week’s haul from behind the headlines
OECD Observer

No 24: Is there a case for wealth taxes?; Thailand’s ageing challenge; Universal basic income meets universal credit; West Africa’s double burden of malnutrition; Asia leads the STEM race but equity must keep pace

Is there a case for wealth taxes?

Only four OECD countries levied recurrent taxes on individuals’ net wealth in 2017, according to a recently published OECD report. Although there’s a strong case for addressing wealth inequality by way of taxation, there are also limited reasons for doing so through wealth taxes, the report argues.

Thailand’s ageing challenge

Thailand’s old-age dependency ratio will surpass the OECD average in 2030, reaching a figure of 26%, as the country faces an ever-more rapidly ageing population, according to UN estimates. Worryingly, only a third of the nation’s overall active labour force is currently covered by pension programmes. The OECD provides suggestions for a more robust pension system.

Universal basic income meets universal credit

As stated by Luke Martinelli, “an affordable UBI is inadequate, and an adequate UBI is unaffordable.” This OECD study compares two benefit reform scenarios: universal basic income and universal credit, using the case of Finland which had implemented the universal basic income in 2017 before voting to discontinue it in April 2018.

West Africa’s double burden of malnutrition

Some 35% of West Africa’s urban population is either overweight or obese, against 17% in rural regions, recent data shows. On the other hand, 18% of rural dwellers–and 13% of their urban counterparts–classify as underweight in the region.

This discrepancy is further aggravated by income inequality: 42% of the top wealth quintile in urban areas is overweight, while 7% of them are underweight.

Asia leads the STEM race but equity must keep pace

In an increasingly globalised labour market, 40% of all tertiary-educated adults in OECD-G20 countries come from China and India. And booming demand for STEM graduates spells good news for both, as 35% of Chinese and Indian graduates obtained a STEM degree in 2015–against an average of 15% in OECD countries. But gender equity remains an issue in this field, where the proportion of women barely exceeds one third of total graduates.

©OECD Observer June 2018

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.6% Q1 2019 year-on-year
Consumer price inflation: 2.3% May 2019 annual
Trade: +0.4% exp, -1.2% imp, Q1 2019
Unemployment: 5.2% July 2019
Last update: 8 July 2019

OECD Observer Newsletter

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

Twitter feed

Subscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To order your own paper editions,email

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • MCM logo
  • The following communiqué and Chair’s statement were issued at the close of the OECD Council Meeting at Ministerial level, this year presided by the Slovak Republic.
  • Food production will suffer some of the most immediate and brutal effects of climate change, with some regions of the world suffering far more than others. Only through unhindered global trade can we ensure that high-quality, nutritious food reaches those who need it most, Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, write in their latest Project Syndicate article. Read the article here.
  • Globalisation will continue and get stronger, and how to harness it is the great challenge, says OECD Secretary-General Gurría on Bloomberg TV. Watch the interview here.
  • OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, in New York City.
  • The new OECD Observer Crossword, with Myles Mellor. Try it online!
  • Listen to the "Robots are coming for our jobs" episode of The Guardian's "Chips with Everything podcast", in which The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, and Jeremy Wyatt, a professor of robotics and artificial intelligence at the University of Birmingham, and Jordan Erica Webber, freelance journalist, discuss the findings of the new OECD report "Automation, skills use and training". Listen here.
  • Do we really know the difference between right and wrong? Alison Taylor of BSR and Susan Hawley of Corruption Watch tell us why it matters to play by the rules. Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview here.
  • Has public decision-making been hijacked by a privileged few? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Stav Shaffir, MK (Zionist Union) Chair of the Knesset Committee on Transparency here.
  • Can a nudge help us make more ethical decisions? Watch the recording of our Facebook live interview with Saugatto Datta, managing director at ideas42 here.
  • The fight against tax evasion is gaining further momentum as Barbados, Côte d’Ivoire, Jamaica, Malaysia, Panama and Tunisia signed the BEPS Multilateral Convention on 24 January, bringing the total number of signatories to 78. The Convention strengthens existing tax treaties and reduces opportunities for tax avoidance by multinational enterprises.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 .
  • Visit the OECD Gender Data Portal. Selected indicators shedding light on gender inequalities in education, employment and entrepreneurship.

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 2019