The proportion of young adults with tertiary education increased by nearly 10 percentage points in all 36 OECD countries in 2008-2018. Higher education brings benefits. People with a tertiary degree are less vulnerable to unemployment for a start, and earn on average 57% more than adults with upper secondary education–this advantage increases with age, to 70% in the case of 45-54 year-olds. Highly educated adults are also more likely to participate in cultural, sporting and public life, be in good health, and take care of the environment.

New business creation is thriving, and is back to pre-crisis levels in many OECD countries, generating millions of new jobs along the way.  However, most new firm and job creation has taken place in sectors with below average productivity, for example, in accommodation and food services in Greece, Ireland and the United Kingdom, and in construction in Italy and Norway. In almost every major OECD economy, the top three sectors generating the largest net employment gains over the period 2010 to 2016 were– restaurants, health and residential care activities, and these had below average labour productivity. In contrast, the level of jobs created in SMEs with above median productivity has been dropping since 2006. This has contributed to lower productivity growth rates in developed economies in recent decades.

Does your country have what it takes to attract talent? Young people entering the labour market today are more educated than older workers approaching retirement and as digitalisation and globalisation reshape demand for skills, countries are looking beyond their borders to meet their needs. However, luring in highly qualified migrants is easier said than done, since many of them, whether in areas such as health, technology or finance, find themselves in the driving sear as the competition for global talent intensifies and in a position to pick their destinations more carefully in line with their own career plans. Countries have to be appealing to them, as well as the other way around. So what makes skilled migrants choose one country instead of another?

“Every crowd has a silver lining,” said P.T. Barnum, America’s “greatest showman”. For businesses, Barnum’s play on words is especially true: crowds are becoming something of a motherlode of funding for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). With bank lending declining, smaller businesses are looking for alternative ways of financing. Thanks to the world wide web, they can now solicit funds not just from banks and professional investors, but from virtually anyone with internet access. This approach can take different forms. Besides crowdfunding (where many individual contributions–usually sourced online–make up the funding), examples include online invoice financing (where SMEs, for instance, can borrow online against unpaid invoices) and peer-to-peer lending activities (online services that match lenders with SME borrowers). Together, these funding opportunities constitute the online alternative finance market. Read the full article here.

Talented and skilled individuals have a key role to play in a country’s future prosperity. They hold jobs that are key for innovation and technological progress, and ultimately contribute to stronger economic growth with other employment opportunities and better living conditions for all. OECD countries increasingly compete to attract and retain talented workers notably by adopting more favourable migration policies for the best and the brightest. This competition has led to a convergence of policy frameworks but significant differences in policies and practices remain. Beyond conditions for migration, many other factors contribute to shape the attractiveness of countries to foreign talent.

Since 2006, Sweden has delivered 1% of its gross national income (GNI) as official development assistance (ODA). In 2017, Sweden was the highest contributor in percentage terms among OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries, outstripping the UN recommended goal of 0.7% of GNI.

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Mental health problems affect about 84 million people in the EU, according to the latest estimates from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. That’s more than one in six people facing problems that range from anxiety to depression to drug and alcohol addiction, as well as severe mental illnesses like bipolar or schizophrenic disorders.

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“Money makes the world go round.” So goes the line in the musical, Cabaret. But probably not even lyricist Fred Ebb, who wrote those famous words, knew how true it is that we need money to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to keep the world, or rather, the planet, going round and round. 

©Frédéric Soreau/Photononstop

One of the most popular Netflix series in Brazil right now is The Mechanism. Loosely based on real events, the show is about an ongoing investigation of a corruption scheme involving high-ranking Brazilian politicians and companies. No wonder it’s so successful: 79% of the population in Latin American and Caribbean countries think their government is corrupt.

The deep recession of 2007-08 hit young people hard, but it hit foreign-born youth even harder. While 13.9% native-born 15 to 29-year-olds in OECD countries were neither employed nor in education or training (NEET) in 2015, the rate for foreign-born in that demographic was 21.5%. 

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More women are going into postsecondary education than men: women’s enrolment rates are 11 percentage points higher on average than that of men. 

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Job automation is widely seen as one of the biggest challenges of the digital revolution, and a source of uncertainty and insecurity for many workers today. The automation of routine tasks has already lowered the share of middle-skill jobs, and polarised low- and high-income jobs, which is associated with rising inequality. In some cases, digitalisation has reduced the demand for low-skilled as well as middle-skilled workers, while increasing demand for a high-skilled workforce, which cannot always be met by the existing supply. The risk is higher wages for some, but unemployment for others.

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Fossil fuel subsidies keep fuel prices artificially low, and weigh heavily on government budgets and on the climate too. Phasing out these subsidies will help reduce CO2 emissions and possibly raise public revenues as well.

Anyone looking for proof that international agreements work should look at the OECD Anti-bribery Convention. One reason is investment. In fact, countries that adhere to the convention (currently 43) invest more abroad than those that have not joined. 

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Higher investment in human development in Africa is paying off. One reflection of this is the share of both girls and boys completing their secondary education,which has increased between 2005 and 2014.

Do you want to know how your country compares with neighbours and competitors on income levels or employment?

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Cancer represents an increasing budgetary pressure on healthcare systems. In OECD countries, total pharmaceutical spending accounts for one-fifth of healthcare spending on average, but while overall spending for medicines did not increase (and even decreased) since 2008-09, the share of high cost “specialty medicines”, to treat cancer patients, for instance, has increased sharply, as it represented 37.7% of total prescription drug spending in the US in 2015. 

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Seneca, a Roman philosopher, argued that quality mattered more than quantity. It is a dictum that may apply to scientific production, according to recent data for citations. The total amount of scientific publications per year in China, Germany, Japan, the UK and the US doubled from 765,000 in 2003 to almost 1.5 million in 2012, thanks to increased investment in public research. The US leads in quantity terms, with China catching up. 

Employment rates have been rising in several OECD countries, but productivity has not kept up. Indeed, a slowdown of productivity growth in the past years continued to undermine rises in economic output and living standards. Labour productivity among the G7 countries was highest in the US where the level of GDP per hour worked was US$68.3 in 2015, followed by France and Germany, while Canada and Japan had levels below the OECD average of $51.1.

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Migration is an ongoing natural phenomenon, with approximately 4.8 million new permanent entries to OECD countries in 2015, representing a 10% increase compared to the previous year. Despite the economic dynamism of certain developing countries, migration is still concentrated in high income destinations, while shocks, uncertainty and vulnerability are often the cause of emigration. Moreover, workers with lower skills are particularly attracted to countries with stronger social safety nets. Could this movement be countered by improving social protection in the home countries? 

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More women go to work today than 40 years ago, but their pay has not kept pace with men’s. Some 58% of women on average in the OECD area worked in 2008, up from 45% in 1970, ranging from 70% of women in the Nordic countries to less than 50% in Greece, Italy, Mexico and Turkey. Indeed, with fewer women staying at home, dual-earner families are now commonplace in most OECD countries; only in Japan, Mexico and Turkey are single-income families more common. However, men are often still the main earners in dual-earner families because so many women work part-time and for lower wages than their husbands. In the Netherlands, a relatively egalitarian country, 60% of women work part time, compared with 16% of men.

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Unequal pay between men and women continues to pose problems, despite decades of legislation by governments to address it, like the Equal Pay Act in the United States and the French labour code on wage equality introduced about half a century ago. In fact, not only are women still paid considerably less than men throughout the world, but UN predictions suggest the gap will persist for 70 years to come.  

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Everyone needs to be sufficiently financially literate to take informed decisions for themselves and their families as to their savings, investments, pensions and more. But in many countries, women have lower financial knowledge than men, and are less confident in their financial knowledge and skills.

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Every year about 1.2 million people die in crashes on the world’s roads and many millions are seriously injured. This heavy toll comes despite decades of efforts to improve traffic safety. 

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The diffusion of internet-based cloud computing among private companies has picked up over recent years, with higher uptake within large firms compared to small businesses. 

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Income inequality between China’s rural and urban areas has surged in recent years. The per capita income of urban households in 2012 was about three times that of the rural households, whereas in 1978 it was about two and half times higher.

Publishing, telecommunications, the audiovisual industry and broadcasting taken together are an important source of value-added growth in OECD countries despite accounting for less than 4% of total OECD employment. This “information sector” covers a wide range of activities, from computer and optical manufacturing to communications services. 

Did you know that there is a correlation between diabetes and education levels? People with the lowest level of education are more than twice as likely to report having diabetes than those with the highest level across EU countries, a close look at Eurostat data shows (see chart).

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Real GDP growth slowed in most of the emerging economies in Asia in 2014 and remained subdued in 2015, the Economic Outlook for Southeast Asia, China and India 2016 says. In fact, most countries in the region recorded slower growth in 2015 than in 2014–the exceptions being Brunei Darussalam, Thailand, Viet Nam and India. China and the ASEAN region recorded their slowest growth since the start of the global financial crisis. 

Economic data

GDP growth: +0.2% Q4 2019
Consumer price inflation: 1.7% March 2020
Trade (G20): -0.1% exp, -1.3% imp, Q4 2019
Unemployment: 5.6% March 2020
Sharp drop in OECD leading indicators point to darker outlook: Last update: 14 May 2020

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