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Reinvigorating the EU Single Market

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Reinvigorating the EU Single Market
Source: OECD

The EU Single Market remains fragmented by complex and heterogeneous rules at the EU and national levels affecting trade, capital, including foreign direct investment, and labour mobility. Further development of the Single Market and removing barriers to external trade would bring substantial growth and employment gains by enhancing resource allocation in Europe, by generating economies of scale and by strengthening competition and hence incentives to innovate. Reforming regulation and other implicit barriers can also yield a double dividend: it would stimulate cross-border activities and support the necessary reallocation process within countries. Such reallocation can cause hardships, especially for the less-skilled workers who may not be able to compete. To deal with such problems, it is important to enhance active labour market policies and training. The Single Market would also benefit from better networks between countries that can be supported by a well-targeted infrastructure policy. New digital networks can be promoted by an appropriate regulatory framework to strengthen confidence and to promote fair competition. Regarding external trade, the first-best solution is clearly multilateral trade negotiations, but short of that external trade and investment barriers can be reduced with Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the United States and other partners. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of the European Union (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-european-union.htm).

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Employment: report shows worker mobility key to tackle EU demographic and skills challenges

October 17, 2014 Comments off

Employment: report shows worker mobility key to tackle EU demographic and skills challenges
Source: European Commission/OECD

To address the effects of population ageing, the EU will need to close the gender gap and increase the participation of young and older workers in the labour market, but mobility and migration also have a key role to play. This is the main finding of the joint Commission-OECD report on Matching Economic Migration with Labour Market Needs published today.

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented “This joint report with the OECD offers valuable guidance on the serious demographic challenges ahead. Ensuring fair labour mobility within the EU, improving training to close skills gaps, ensuring decent working conditions to workers and better integration of non-EU workers can be part of the solution to population ageing and future skill shortages in the European labour market”.

How Was Life? shows long-term progress in key areas of well-being

October 7, 2014 Comments off

How Was Life? shows long-term progress in key areas of well-being
Source: OECD

People’s well-being has generally progressed since the early 20th century across a large part of the world, according to new research published by a consortium of economic historians (CLIO-INFRA) and produced in collaboration with the OECD and OECD Development Centre.

How Was Life? Global Well-Being since 1820 shows that, with the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, countries have generally become more equal to each other in terms of well-being than in terms of per capita GDP – particularly in recent decades.

The study presents for the first time systematic evidence of trends in areas such as health, education, inequality, the environment and personal security over the past 200 years.

By bringing together long-term, historical data, the study makes an important contribution to key questions on the extent to which well-being has been linked to economic circumstances.

The historical data covers real wages, per capita GDP, educational attainment, life expectancy, height (used as a proxy for physical health and nutrition), personal security, political institutions, environmental quality, and income and gender inequality. The topics mirror those of the OECD’s regular How’s Life? report on measuring well-being.

Jobs recovery to remain weak in 2015, says OECD

September 4, 2014 Comments off

Jobs recovery to remain weak in 2015, says OECD
Source: OECD

Unemployment will remain well above its pre-crisis levels next year in most OECD countries, despite modest declines over the rest of 2014 and in 2015, according to a new OECD report.

The Employment Outlook 2014 says that average jobless rates will decrease slightly over the next 18 months in the OECD area, from 7.4% in mid-2014 to 7.1% at the end of 2015. Almost 45 million people are out of work in OECD countries, 12.1 million more than just before the crisis. Globally, an estimated 202 million people are unemployed, with many more in low-paid and precarious jobs.

The Outlook also analyses the impact of the crisis on wages. It finds that real wage growth has come to a virtual standstill since 2009 and wages actually fell in a number of countries by between 2% and 5% a year on average, including in Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain.

This slowdown has been fairly evenly spread across the earnings distribution. However, slower real wage growth, and cuts in wages in some cases, result in real hardship for low-paid workers, the report warns.

An Exploration of the Determinants of the Subjective Well-being of Americans During the Great Recession

September 3, 2014 Comments off

An Exploration of the Determinants of the Subjective Well-being of Americans During the Great Recession
Source: OECD

This paper uses data from the American Life Panel to understand the determinants of well-being in the United States during the Great Recession. It investigates how various dimensions of subjective wellbeing reflected in the OECD Better Life Framework impact subjective well-being. The results show that income is an important determinant of subjective well-being. The unemployed and the disabled are significantly less satisfied with their lives than the working population, while the retired and the homemakers are more satisfied. The paper expands the existing evidence by showing that homeowners, registered voters and those with access to health insurance have higher levels of subjective well-being. Time spent walking or exercising is positively correlated with happiness, while working more than 50 hours per week or spending time on health-related activities is negatively correlated with subjective well-being, and higher levels of anxiety. This Working Paper relates to the 2014 OECD Economic Survey of United States (www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/economic-survey-united-states.htm)

Improving Well-Being in the United States

August 22, 2014 Comments off

Improving Well-Being in the United States
Source: OECD

Life is quite good in the United States compared to other OECD countries, thanks to strong economic growth and technological progress having lifted average income to high levels. Nonetheless, there is evidence that the benefits from growth have not been sufficiently broad based. Self-reported happiness increases with income, an issue particularly resonant in a country with among the highest levels of income inequality in the OECD and a pattern of inequality that appears to be moving toward even more concentration at the very top at the expense of the middle class and the poor. Working hours that remain among the longest in the OECD are also creating challenges for work-life balances, child education, personal care and leisure. These pressures are contributing to higher job strain and work-related stress with unhealthy consequences, including for mental health, and a detrimental impact on employability and medical costs. While these trends cannot be easily reversed, a number of policy options are being usefully rolled out and other initiatives are being considered: federal-level policies improving access to health care and early-childhood education, state-level initiatives favouring workplace flexibility, firm-level investments in job quality and greater attention to the health consequences of job-stress. If successfully adopted, they would go a long way toward improving the well-being of American working families.

Workplace Stress in the United States: Issues and Policies

August 11, 2014 Comments off

Workplace Stress in the United States: Issues and Policies
Source: OECD

Despite relative affluence, workplace stress is a prominent feature of the US labour market. To the extent that job stress causes poor health outcomes – either directly through increased blood pressure, fatigue, muscle pain, etc. or indirectly through increased rates of cigarette smoking – policy to lessen job stress may be appropriate. Focusing predominantly on the United States, this report reviews the literature on a variety of economic concerns related to job stress and health. Areas in which economists may provide valuable insights regarding job stress include empirical selection concerns in identifying the effect of stress on health; measurement error with respect to stress; the existence and magnitude of compensating differentials for stress; and the unique “job lock” effect in the United States created by a system of employer-provided health insurance. This report concludes with a brief discussion of US policies related to job stress.

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