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Doctors at large

People in the OECD area are living longer and healthier lives. Improved lifestyles are one reason, as are better medical treatments. But could the number of doctors also be a contributing factor?

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Main economic indicators June 2015

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Main economic indicators April 2015

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E-government generation

Are digital tools simplifying our interactions with public authorities? From document browsing to downloading of forms as well as administrative procedures, governments in most of OECD countries now offer a wide range of online services. 

A measure of recovery

The GDP growth story over the past year or two has been one of diverging trends, with relative buoyancy returning to economies such as Sweden, the UK and the US, but with the euro area still looking off colour. How have the crisis and subsequent economic growth patterns affected the actual size of each country’s economy compared to 2007? Have OECD countries recovered their pre-crisis levels of GDP? 

Fuel for thought

A litre of diesel has around 10% more combustion energy than petrol, but produces roughly 18% more CO2 emissions. 

Main economic indicators Q4 2014

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©OECD Observer No 301, Q4 2014

Productivity’s wave goodbye?

Did you know that the pace of productivity growth is slowing sharply across the OECD area? Moreover, the trend has continued downward since the early 2000s after a brief upward tick in the 1980s and 1990s, which in part reflected the diffusion of new information and communications technologies

Main economic indicators Q3 2014

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Who's smiling now?

Case studies of specific products, particularly in the electronics industry, show that value creation along a global value chain tends to be unevenly distributed among activities. 

Does school pay?

People are by far the most important input when building quality education. So it is little surprise that teachers’ salaries represent the largest single cost item in the labour intensive education system. Salaries and working conditions play an important role in attracting, motivating and retaining skilled teachers. Teachers are the backbone of the education sector which is a crucial determinant of productivity and growth.

The economics of happiness

If you feel like happiness is the truth, you might be well poised to stop clapping along with Pharrell Williams, and start seeking out a new place to settle up north. While Switzerland topped the list of the happiest OECD countries in 2012, the high ranks were dominated by the Nordic circle of Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark.

A modern killer

Dementia is a devastating condition for which there is no cure available. Care is costly, financially and emotionally. The cost for health systems is likely to rise in ageing societies. The condition damages the brain, and leads to a decline in a person’s functional and cognitive capabilities.

Europe’s deflation risk

The OECD does not see deflation taking hold in the euro area, but the risk has risen.

Air pollution kills

The total number of deaths attributed to airborne pollution continues to decrease across the OECD world, largely thanks to regulatory policies for transport vehicle emissions and technological improvements. Between 2005 and 2010, pollution-related mortalities fell by 4% from approximately 498,000 cases a year, to just over 478,000. But a closer look reveals a more worrying picture. Outside of the EU, only the US and Israel have successfully attained reductions in deaths, while 14 other member countries–including Australia, Canada and Japan–actually recorded an increase in the absolute number of mortalities.

Tolerance in crisis?

Immigration became a heated subject of debate during the European Parliament elections in May 2014. Economists are now asking whether anti-immigrant sentiment can be attributed to fiscal, as well as social, factors.

An impressive comeback

While today Japan is one of the world’s largest and most advanced economies, a member of the G7 and the most developed country in Asia, in 1964 the picture was quite different.

Tough terms for small businesses

Small and medium-sized enterprises refers to firms of up to 250 workers each, but did you know that these so-called SMEs make up some 90% of employment in the OECD area? 

Genetic strains

Some 18% of the total OECD arable and permanent cropland area was sown with transgenic crops in the period including 2008 to 2010.

More gloom on the horizon

Optimism has proved to be another major victim of the economic crisis, according to How’s Life? Indeed, people’s long-term expectations about their subjective well-being fi ve years from now have deteriorated almost everywhere in the OECD area. And most of them don’t expect things to get much better. 

Who’s smiling now?

Case studies of specific products, particularly in the electronics industry, show that value creation along a global value chain tends to be unevenly distributed among activities. The highest value creation is found in upstream activities, such as the development of a new concept, research and development (R&D) and the manufacturing of key components. But it is also found in downstream activities, such as marketing, branding and customer service.

Innovation in Latin America

Latin America’s future as a region of innovation will be far from secure if investment in research and development (R&D) continues at current low levels.

Good returns

People who have completed tertiary education can generally expect to earn more than those who don’t. But governments and societies benefit from these people’s investments as well.

Containing costly job losses

Job losses can prove costly for individuals, as well as to society. Financial distress, for example, can lead to health problems and crime. While policies like unemployment benefits, job-search assistance and skills training can help ease the personal impact of job loss, they can be expensive. Consequently, governments also turn to policies that protect employees from losing their jobs in the first place.

Poverty gaps

Will this be Asia’s century? When it comes to growth and social progress, there have been heady leaps forward, with every prospect of continued dynamism over the next five years. But according to the Southeast Asian Economic Outlook 2013, if there is a blot on the map, it is in tackling poverty and the wide development gaps that bedevil the continent.

Not so patient

Patients in most OECD countries face long hospital waiting times, whether for primary care, out-patient specialist care or even emergency care. Tax payers rightly expect better service, and hospital waiting times are understandably a contentious political issue.

Take a walk

Cities that want healthier populations should get them moving. In the US, where urban sprawl and personal motorised vehicle are prevalent, walking makes up only 8.6% of all trips, by far the lowest proportion in our chart.

Emerging innovators

Making strides in scientific innovation is no longer an initiative of just a few select high-income countries. Research and innovation have become increasingly democratised; indeed, Asia’s emerging economies are now gaining prominence as world hubs of scientific research. While the United States remains at the top in terms of the volume of scientific publications produced and collaborations made, these countries are eager to develop their own innovation capabilities, and strengthen their research and academic partnerships.

Headline economic data
GDP +0.5% Q3 2014 (+0.4% Q2 2014)
Trade +1.5% exp, -0,8% imp, Q2 2014 (G7 and BRIICS)
Inflation +1.7% Sep 2014 (+1.8% Aug) annual
Unemployment 7.2% Sep 2014 (7.3% Aug 2014)

Data for OECD area. Latest update: 20 Nov 2014

Databank - Latest quarterly data by country

For details on these and other numbers, click titles or visit www.oecd.org/statistics