OECD Observer
The Friday Fish
A weekly catch from behind the headlines on oecd.org

No 4: Can we measure life satisfaction?; The reality of public debt and economic growth; Avoiding trade chaos; A man's finance world?; What makes Indonesia grow; Personalised health; Crisis pushes up social spending; "Better governance for inclusive growth"; Biodiversity vs. economy?; No adversity 

Can we measure life satisfaction?

Robert Kennedy once observed that economic growth figures measure everything except that which really matters. This Gallup study looks at what makes up life satisfaction and subjective well-being, and is useful background to the OECD's own Better Life Initiative. More…

The reality of public debt and economic growth

Government debt has risen in several countries, and in some of them it is well over 100% of GDP. Economists used not to worry too much, as long as, for instance, public debt was balanced by private savings. Now economists believe that a public debt-to-GDP ratio higher than 90% of GDP is associated with much lower economic performance in advanced and emerging economies alike. However, as this technical paper by Balázs Égert points out, while there is a debt threshold beyond which negative effects for economic growth appear, the results depend on time dimensions and countries covered, data frequency and other variables. Public Debt, Economic Growth and Nonlinear Effects: Myth or Reality?

Avoiding trade chaos

We mentioned in an earlier Friday fish that trade can help a global economic recovery. In this lively and clear short video, Jagdish Bhagwati, a well-known professor who has previously written for the OECD Observer, explains why. Trade is a cornerstone of our economic system, he says, and nor does trade steal jobs from OECD countries. More…

A man's finance world?

Is financial education gender biased? On average, women perform worse than men on tests of financial knowledge and have less confidence in their financial skills. Angela Hung, Joanne Yoong, Elizabeth Brown of the RAND corporation looked at what we know about this potential discrimination. More…

What makes Indonesia grow

Indonesia is a G20 country with a population that approaches the quarter-billion mark. Much of the country's economic growth is powered by micro, small and medium-sized firms (MSMEs). What policies have helped foment this sector? Annabelle Mourougane takes a look. More…

Personalised health

Biomarkers and targeted therapies may sound like undecipherable scientific jargon but these newer forms of medicine are promising a whole new era in healthcare. Many of the policy issues surrounding "personalised medicine" are decipherable and are here in this report.

Men are much more likely to be admitted to hospital for poor management of diabetes than women, new data show. Across 25 countries surveyed, while 8.7% of men and 8.3% of women are currently living with diabetes, the average number of hospital admissions with diabetes was 188 per 100,000 among men in 2009, whereas women had a hospital admission rate of 143 per 100,000–more than 20% lower. More…

Crisis pushes up social spending

Public social spending is on the rise, according to new OECD data. "Social Spending after the Crisis", an OECD report published 15 November, shows that rising spending-to-GDP ratios are a result of governments boosting expenditure on social supports like unemployment, in addition to GDP declines or stagnation in many countries. Population ageing is also slated to drive up pension and health spending in the years ahead. More…

"Better governance for inclusive growth"

What better than an open forum to help governance give inclusive growth a boost? "Better Governance for inclusive growth" sets the tone of the next OECD Global Forum on Public Governance, on 21 November in Paris. That's next Wednesday. Don’t miss it, the next one is in 2014. More…

Biodiversity vs. economy? No adversity

Empty oceans, jungles turned into deserts, and a world deprived of basic goods, such as medicines. To prevent this disaster movie from becoming reality, governments must put biodiversity concerns at the heart of decision making, particularly when it comes to growth. This document shows how the two goals can be combined in a variety of ways and the OECD recently called for a change of pace at the UN COP11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Hyderabad, India.

Can we measure life satisfaction?The reality of public debt and economic growthAvoiding trade chaosA man’s finance world?What makes Indonesia growPersonalised healthCrisis pushes up social spending"Better governance for inclusive growth"Biodiversity vs. economy?No adversity

The Friday fish #4 ©OECD Observer, 16 November 2012