OECD Observer
Unequal well-being

We encourage the OECD and other global bodies to provide greater focus on reporting non-GDP based measures alongside GDP per capita when comparing the progress of nations so that this methodology can become more mainstream.

Enlargement conundrum

Former Ambassador Seiichiro Noboru urges the OECD to expand by including the BRIICS* ("Serving a new world" in OECD Observer No 298, Q1 2014). Only when these countries adopt OECD best practices can governments and firms enjoy a true level playing field. As the organisation helps aspiring members to adhere with OECD instruments, important reforms can be pushed forward.

Retweets No 299, Q2 2014

The new public #data portal in beta lets you find, compare and share the latest #OECD stats http://data.oecd.org/ pic.twitter.com/DmV3q7qmjn

Inaccessible open data

At the engine room (https://www.theengineroom.org) we work to close gaps between advocacy and technology through research and networks.

No growth climate

Climate change is a result of humanity's overuse of resources. Technology cannot undo the damage done, neither can governments nor markets, since in both the prevailing paradigm is growth–being a truly suicidal ideology on a finite planet. 

Will power

I have been involved in this discussion for 50 years now and appreciate the points made by both sides ("Ending poverty", oecdinsights.org). However strong their quoted "indicators" may be, the true fact is that all the "political will" in the world has proved to be completely worthless. Having worked in many countries around the world, I know that the biggest barrier to alleviating poverty is corruption.

Paris by e-car

Congratulations on choosing a photo of the Paris-based Autolib' electric carsharing scheme to illustrate your article on the plight of the car industry in the OECD area ("The automotive sector: Steering beyond the crisis" in No 297, Q4 2013).

Nigerian giant

Your view of Africa offers encouragement (Africa's century? No 296, Q3 2013). But it is hard to see how countries there can rise up so-called global value chains without some major economies sorting themselves out first.

End poverty?

Our governments should focus on human development, more than in making industry grow, all people should be concerted in changing this way of thinking, because if we just think in terms of growing our industry we won’t care about poor people. 

Environmental concerns

As I gaze out my window at a very spring-like day in late December, I am well aware of the lack of accustomed snow pack. I am grateful to the scientists and researchers who are investigating strategies that will mitigate the effects of this looming shift in the weather patterns we are complacent to.

Measuring child well-being

When household resources are scarce, children become breadwinners, young girls are married, etc. It is obvious to take into account the child's rights in the well-being measure.

VAT muddle

The idea of a "single rate system" as espoused here (VAT's next half century: Towards a single-rate system? No 284, Q1 2011) shows that the author–for that matter the entire OECD–needs to know certain facts.

Lead musician

Lead was also apparently the cause of Beethoven's deafness and death ("Lead and crime", No 295 Q2 2013, "Getting the lead out", online title). But would he have created his late quartets otherwise?

Cheaper global labour

Technology may be one of the factors decreasing the income share in OECD countries, but this is not true for developing countries. Studies show technology spill-overs actually increase income share in developing countries.

Anglo woes

Attempts to bring about a more equitable and sustainable global recovery will be much constrained by the acute and growing inequality in wealth and income in the US/Anglo-type economies ("Towards a sustainable, more equitable, recovery" in No 295, Q2 2013).

Aid assessment

I am just starting to think about this question of how aid should be measured, so this article is very helpful background on Development Assistance Committee process and substance ("Development aid and finance: A defining moment", in No 294, Q1 2013). 

Healthy retirement ages

You say working longer in life is becoming part of a trend, and that it is becoming "more normative to keep working" past normal retirement ("Older candidates, please apply" in OECD Yearbook 2014, www.oecd.org/yearbook). But that does not mean a formal retirement age should be allowed to disappear. Just like a schoolgoing age or a voting age, a retirement age gives signals to guide policymaking as well as personal life decisions.

Germany’s tax choice

Your report on Germany proposes raising capital gains taxes on residential real estate (except for owner-occupied housing) to promote equity of income distribution and government revenue (OECD Economic Surveys: Germany, May 2014, see oecd.org/germany). 

Middle-class dream

Ironically, the biggest challenge now for the US middle class may be contending with the potency of the "American Dream" internationally. President Obama starkly captured this prospect in a graduation address. His audience was black but the message was clearly and accurately aimed at all young Americans who have learned how to make excuses: "We've got no time for excuses–not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven't," he said. 

Bad banking

The economic crisis has highlighted the lax economic regulations put in place in the banking sector, and your article reveals that deception and misconduct is still endorsed by some bankers ("Banking, ethics and good principles", OECD Observer No 294, Q1 2013).

Skilling up

A country's education system has the potential to develop innovation skills in young people at an early age ("What a lasting recovery needs", OECD Observer No 279, May 2010). Comments I've read on the topic seem to assume that business thinking starts after leaving school, say, with 16-18 year-olds.

Web passport

You say that "in the UK, the Home Office estimates that ID fraud costs £1.7 billion (US$330 billion) to the UK economy, nearly 50% up on 2002." ("Online identity theft", in No 268, June 2008) If everyone is given a "place" on the net where people can be contacted, that also creates an opportunity for people to protect themselves. But this "place" must be made safe, and therefore must be seen by governments as part of their country's normal infrastructure. Integrity is the key word. 

Careful expansion

OECD faces a huge challenge of image. You insist that the organisation, known for its in-depth analyses and reliable statistics, aims to represent all relevant economies. Emerging countries, however, cultivate the impression that the OECD, despite its co-operation and development efforts well beyond its membership, is still the voice of "rich nations" only.

Sea folk

Bravo on the fisheries committee for its 100th meeting (No 264/265, Dec 2007-Jan 2008). The attention you bring to fishers is valuable, and your line against fish piracy commendable too. However, I sometimes wonder if your reform ideas, many of them good, don't sometimes go a little too far.

Beyond sun roofs

Prof Vaclav Smil's lucid and measured thinking is correct in that we must be realistic about renewable energy's future (No 258/259, December 2006). But I wonder if he is not being too dismissive of solar energy.

Small is renewable

Your energy focus covers the renewable question very well (No 258/259, December 2006). But what if the renewable promise became a broken one? It might, if mindsets don't change.

Water capital

Secretary-General Angel Gurría argues that "advancing on the issue of water will help us move forward on almost all the Millennium Development Goals" (Editorial, in No 256, July 2006). We agree, and would like to draw your attention to the Working for Water programme (WfW) in South Africa.

Marital problems

Although I agree that men and women who are happily married can expect higher average incomes, I believe the idea of what a happy marriage consists of needs to be looked at more closely ("US: A Healthy Marriage", in Roundtable on social affairs, No 248, March 2005).

Africa’s moment?

Is it really "Africa’s moment" (No 249, May 2005)? You mention conflict, but how can we help stop humanitarian disasters, like the one that seems inevitable in Darfur, where we cannot say we were not warned. 

What global warming?

In his article, "Global warming: What comes after Kyoto?", Professor Burton Richter's arguments are based on two incorrect premises–one explicit, the other implied (OECD Observer No 233, August 2002).