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Can big data deliver on its promise?

Did you know that, according to the UN Global Pulse, more data was created in 2011 than in the whole of human history, or at least, since the invention of the alphabet?

Face to Facebook with civil society

Democracy is a good thing; transparency is too, and so is openness. Nothing too controversial in this statement, you might think. The veil of ignorance is slowly but steadily being lifted from the eyes of the general public across the world thanks to thriving media, innovation in global communications and the pressure on governments to open up and reach out.

A calm look at social unrest

In a globalised world, social unrest occurring far away can have transnational ramifications, with effects nearer to home. This has been evident in recent years with movements such as Occupy and Indignados, and the Arab Spring. Unrest could also be the consequence of a terrorist attack, but even the threat of one can lead to widespread panic. The upshot can be disorder and economic turmoil.

Ad sense

Politicians have long called on the services of public relations firms, design experts and advertising agencies to help them communicate. What impact do they have, and how has their role changed? We asked one of the very biggest in the business, Saatchi & Saatchi, for some insights.

Trading in facts

Getting information and communications “right” has always been a necessary condition for delivering sound policy advice; today, there are many more possibilities to generate and to share evidence-based policy insights, but there are also many more competing messages and messengers. Here are two examples.

Policymaking and the information revolution

The OECD Observer is celebrating its 50th anniversary: no better time than to turn our focus to the currency of information itself.

Changing world of migration

While there has been progress in immigrant integration on many fronts, much remains to be done. The crisis has rolled back progress in some countries, so catching up is still the name of the game. Better policies mean better outcomes. The future depends on it, says the OECD.

See www.oecd.org/migration

©OECD Observer No 293 Q4 November 2012

Obama vs. Romney: Is it the economy, stupid?

Are you able to make sense of the barrage of opinion poll data that is currently being published in the lead up to the US presidential election on 6 November? Bruce Stokes, Director of Pew Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center, sheds light on the poll trends and assesses to what extent issues such as the economy will be deciding factors when voters approach the ballot box.

#40 The haves and the have-nots
#37 Daydream
Saving retirement

Over the next 50 years, life expectancy at birth is expected to increase by more than seven years in developed economies. While this is good news for many, it will also be a strain on pension systems. To be sure, governments will need to address increasing life expectancy by raising retirement ages gradually. This is a key conclusion of the first Pensions Outlook 2012, a new OECD report which looks at the future of pensions.

The OECD Gender Initiative: Overview

Regrettably, gender discrimination is still a problem in our societies and our economies. In fact, “problem” is far too weak a word. It is more accurate to speak of an unacceptable injustice. Women have fewer opportunities in terms of education, employment and entrepreneurship and are, on average, less well paid for their work. 

CleanGovBiz: A new push against corruption

The OECD’s CleanGovBiz Initiative helps governments fight corruption, while working with civil society and the private sector to promote integrity.

The hurting middle class

The middle class has long been the backbone of prosperity and economic stability in developed countries. But the crisis is exert increasing pressure on this pillar of society. Does the middle class need saving?

The conflict between generations: Fact or fiction?

Expect the issue of solidarity between generations to become a major policy challenge in the years ahead, and not just in OECD countries. Here’s why. 

Why measure subjective well-being?

The search for measures of progress that might replace GDP is a timely and necessary one, but only a single metric will do the trick. 

New times, old perspectives?

The long road towards gender equality has arrived at greater educational attainment, higher female labour force participation, and advances in politics and business, but we haven’t reached the end yet. 

Tackling inequality

The average income of the richest 10% of the population is about nine times that of the poorest 10%, up from seven times what it was 25 years ago. Even in more egalitarian countries, such as Germany and Sweden, the earnings of the richest are over six times higher than those of the poorest, compared with just over three in 1985. Inequality has narrowed in countries like Chile and Mexico, though the income gap between rich and poor is still 27 to 1, and in Brazil, which as this edition shows has implemented impressive programmes against poverty and inequality, the gap stands at 50 to 1. Clearly, the benefits of economic growth have not trickled down or been fairly distributed. 

Tackling poverty and inequality

Some 16.3 million Brazilians (8.5% of the population) live on less than $1.50 per day, which by most international definitions indicates extreme poverty. However, thanks to the efforts of successive governments, including that of the current president, Dilma Rousseff, the country has made tremendous progress in reducing that poverty and tackling income inequality too. 

Protecting women's work

Half the world’s workforce, 1.5 billion working women and men, are in vulnerable employment. The global economic crisis has swelled the ranks of those whose jobs do not provide enough to meet basic needs, the “working poor”, by more than 100 million people, mainly women.

Martine Durand
Progress: from compass to global positioning system

For most of the last century, progress in the conditions of our societies was often assessed through the compass of economic growth, or GDP. In recent years, however, both governments and citizens have come to recognise that GDP provides only a partial view of today’s economic and social conditions and of whether these conditions can be expected to last in the future. Better indicators are needed that take into account sustainability, equity and quality of life.

A global safety net

In October 2011, a high-level panel headed by the former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, delivered a ground-breaking report to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, arguing that everyone around the globe should receive a living income, guaranteed through transfers in cash or in kind, such as pensions for the elderly and persons with disabilities, child benefits, income support benefits and/or employment guarantees, and services for the unemployed and working poor. Martin Hirsch, a member of that panel, explains why this proposal for a more socially responsible globalisation can work. 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Leading by example

Turkey’s efforts in the struggle against poverty and income inequality have met with much success. Today, the country stands out as a model in the region and beyond. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discusses these achievements and the country’s role in international co-operation. 

Peggy Hollinger
A hollowing middle class

In many countries, the middle class is feeling squeezed, and the crisis has only made matters worse. What is behind this sentiment and what can be done to reverse it?

Danilo Türk
The time for change

The current 30-year cycle of deregulation and uncompromising belief in the “invisible hand” of the market is coming to an end.
This is happening amid a serious financial and economic crisis that is often compared with the Great Depression of the 1930s. Civil unrest is spreading.

Peggy Hollinger
A hollowing middle class

In many countries, the middle class is feeling squeezed, and the crisis has only made matters worse. What is behind this sentiment and what can be done to reverse it?

Acting on gender


©OECD

How's Life?

Have you ever had the feeling that economists and governments speak about wealth and growth in a way that doesn’t always chime with your own everyday experience?

#38 Work-life balance
Jobs with small children

Most people would probably agree that female employment and maternity leave are related issues. But did you know that female employment rates are not always highest in countries where paid maternity leave is longest?