OECD Observer
Home
Menu
Will your job be automated?

Job automation is widely seen as oneof 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.

Phase them out!

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.

Bribes don’t pay

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. 

Africa’s school progress

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

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?

Our new interactive dataset allows you to compare country performances in the labour market, at the push of a button. In fact, this useful and intuitive tool provides a complete overview of international labour market performances.

healthcare, health, pharmaceuticals, prices, drugs, cancer, oecd
Addressing high costs of specialty drugs

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. 

science, excellence, university, oecd
The race for excellence in scientific publishing

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. 

Labour productivity in 2015

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.

migration, social, spending, oecd
Can more social spending curb emigration?

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? 

Mind the gap

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.

Pay gap

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.  

A costly gender gap

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.

oecd,road,irtad,transport,traffic,car
Road death challenge

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. 

oecd,computing,cloud computing,internet,technology,online,web,business
Cloud computing

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. 

China, city, OECD, rural, urban,income
China’s urban-rural divide

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.

information jobs, information industries, communications, oecd
The ups and downs of information jobs

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. 

Education and diabetes

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).

asia,inflation,economy,finance,capital
Asia's riskier outlook

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. 

oecd,africa,korea,trade,export,import
Korean-African trade techs up

Korean trade with Africa has more than quadrupled since the late 1990s.

oecd,korea,pisa,education,student
Korea's young students excel

If there is one area where Korea has jostled to the front of the OECD field in 20 years, it is in education. Take school performance: according to the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a renowned global benchmark which surveys competence among 15-year-olds around the world, Korea’s young students perform better at school than most of their peers in other OECD countries. In the last test in 2012, Korea led the OECD field in mathematics, was second to Japan for reading (our chart), and was in the top seven for science. Some 64 countries and economies with comparable data took the tests. In the 2009 tests Korea had also commanded a top spot. 

oecd,men,women,education,student,pisa,higher education
Women graduates

Traditionally, men have tended to be more educated than women in Korea, especially when it comes to higher education. Only 34% of doctoral graduates or equivalent graduates are women, which is among the lowest shares across G7 and OECD countries. However, women in Korea have made great strides in educational attainment over the past decade. 

oecd,agriculture,agricultural production,food,food security
Agricultural production grows strongly

As agriculture has proven itself able to respond to shifts in demand in the past, it could be argued that food security is less an issue of food supply and more one of affordable access.

e-commerce, internet, oecd, privacy, security
Buying into e-commerce

A decade or so ago e-commerce was a buzzword, but today it has become a routine part of life. Or has it? About half of individuals in OECD countries bought products online in 2014, up from 31% in 2007. The increase in online purchases was particularly marked in Belgium, Estonia, France, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland. Today, more than three-quarters of adults order online in Denmark, Norway and the UK. However, only 10% of adults bought online in Chile and Turkey, and less than 5% in Colombia and Mexico. 

What if Paris flooded?

The River Seine overflowing its banks is not an uncommon sight in Paris, as the winter catchment swells, causing water levels to rise and cover the lower banks, jetties and walkways. 

oecd,agriculture,farm,market
Support to agricultural producers trends downwards

Over the past 20 years, support provided to agricultural producers in 49 countries analysed by the OECD has been following a downward trend. 

CO2, climate change, environment
Breaking down carbon emissions

In tackling climate change, it makes sense for policymakers to know which sectors greenhouse-gas emissions are coming from. Our chart shows the main sources for European carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, including electricity supply, manufacturing, households and transportation. Household emissions are largely generated from fossil fuel energy used to heat dwellings, but some of the other industry sources are more complex.

earnings, jobs, employment, oecd, earnings quality, labour market, well-being, pay gap
Jobs are not just about how much money

When it comes to jobs and earnings, quality counts, too.

CO2, climate change, environment
Mapping carbon emissions

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions worldwide have been trending upwards for decades. A small group of large countries is responsible for the lion’s share of these global emissions.

external financial flows Africa, development
Shifting landscape in African development finance

The financial landscape has changed considerably in Africa since 2000. Private external flows in the form of investment and remittances now drive growth in external finance, according to the African Economic Outlook 2015. Foreign investments are expected to reach US$73.5 billion in 2015, underpinned by increasing greenfield investment from China, India and South Africa.

food prices
Food prices on a declining trend