Art for Art’s Sake? A gift to philanthropists and policymakers
Art for Art’s Sake? The Impact of Arts Education is a gift. Whether one is an artist, educator, policy maker, or philanthropic organization, it offers a comprehensive, cogent review of research studies, and identifies both evidence and gaps in our knowledge. It examines the question of whether arts education helps to develop attributes for the workforce in innovation-directed economies, and lays out the next steps for potential research. Read more
Avoiding death by diesel
The most powerful man in the world is a gun-toting gay immigrant tobacconist married to a feminist oil executive receiving welfare benefits. He makes, modifies and abrogates laws with an ease that most politicians would envy, apart of course from the ones he pays to do his dirty business for him. At least that’s the impression you could get from reading the press and seeing how often, and in what way, the word “lobby” is used. Read more
When you are old and grey and full of sleep
The hardest job I ever had was as a nursing assistant in a psychiatric hospital. On a typical shift, five or six of us would look after 60 patients or more. The majority of the men had a combination of psychiatric and other conditions – Alzheimer’s, alcoholism, schizophrenia, various degrees of paralysis, and so on. What they had in common was the need for the long-term care the hospital provided. It’s a need that’s going to grow, with the number of people aged over 80 in OECD countries doubling between now and 2050. The share of the over-80s will rise from 3.9% of the population now to 9.1% in 2050, and from 4.7% to 11.3% in the EU-27. The OECD and the European Commission have just produced a report on monitoring and improving quality in long-term care. If you’re worried about growing old, A Good Life in Old Age? will do nothing to reassure you. “…at least one in two people admitted to hospital from a care home setting are at risk of malnutrition… at least 30% of older people in acute hospitals and 40% of older people in care homes meet the clinical criteria for a diagnosis of depression… There is no sign of a consistent decline in the incidence of physical restraint use… two-thirds of LTC [long-term care] users in institutions were exposed to one or more medication errors… one old person dies due to a fall every five hours… Pressure ulcers are known to affect a large number of LTC recipients in nursing homes…”. So, what can be done, other than head north to cast yourself adrift on an ice floe before global warming melts them all? Read more
Industrial policies for development: It’s more than you think
It was a dirty word. Not something to boast about. Yet it was widely practiced, even by its harshest critics. Industrial policy is now back it seems – unless, as Stiglitz says, it never really left. The third edition of Perspectives on Global Development from the OECD Development Centre demystifies industrial policies. Does this edition live up to the outstanding standards set by the first two? Yes, and it should prove just as useful too.
As Cambridge professor Ha Joon Chang puts it: this “landmark publication… shows a supreme degree of pragmatism”. It “looks for ways to make industrial policy work better, rather than having an ideological debate on whether it exists and whether it can ever succeed. It is an excellent example of how that exploration may be conducted in an intelligent, well-informed and balanced way”.
Eurasia: The Silk Road to Competitiveness
Seen from a sweltering hotel lobby surrounded by palm trees, the view could be considered somewhat surprising. Turquoise beach? Sand covered surfers? No, try a snow swept tundra and ultra modern skyscrapers plated with 10-story TV screens. We’re in Astana, Kazakhstan and it’s February. Welcome to today’s Eurasia, land of contrasts. Twenty-five years ago the story was different. Most of the thirteen economies of Eurasia taking part in the OECD Eurasia Competitiveness Programme shared the same Soviet institutions which kept a lid on economic, political and social differences. Today the lid is off and divergences between countries are growing as they race to find a place in the global economy.
Getting Rid of “Responsible” from “Responsible Business Conduct”
Today’s OECD Global Forum on Responsible Business Conduct comes not a minute too soon, with far too many recent examples of irresponsible – and, in many cases, criminal conduct – in international business. There is reason to worry that such problems will worsen as the center of gravity of the world’s economic activity moves towards the developing nations, since the necessary institutions and the context within which global business operates have not had the time to catch up with the rapid market changes. For this reason, business must take on a disproportionate share of responsibility to compensate for the missing institutions. Read more
School’s out, but what’s next?
Over the past few weeks, many young people walked through the doors of high schools and universities for the last time. For some, the next steps of their journey are well mapped out – more education, an internship, maybe even a job. For others, things are far less clear.
Their uncertainty is underlined by the latest data on “NEETs” – young people not in employment, education or training – in OECD countries. On average in 2011 (the most recent year for which internationally comparable statistics are available), around one in six young people between the ages of 15 and 29 fell into that category. In some OECD countries, the proportion rose to as high as one in three among people in their mid to late-20s.
These numbers appear in the latest edition of the OECD’s Education at a Glance, which paints a worrying picture of the job prospects of young people in the wake of the Great Recession. But it also underlines the continuing – and growing – importance of education as they make their way in the world.
The serpent in the lobby
The most powerful man in the world is a gun-toting gay immigrant tobacconist married to a feminist oil executive receiving welfare benefits. He makes, modifies and abrogates laws with an ease that most politicians would envy, apart of course from the ones he pays to do his dirty business for him. At least that’s the impression you could get from reading the press and seeing how often, and in what way, the word “lobby” is used. Generally, it’s in relation to undue influence on government decision-making, and the lobby or lobbyist is presented as inherently suspicious. Here’s a typical example from the UK’s Daily Mail: “The Frankenfood Conspiracy: Secret summit where slick lobbyists for bio-tech giants seduced Tory Ministers into changing their tune on GM food”. Read more
Emerging Middle Class Blues
How is life? You might have expected the urban middle class in Brazil and Turkey to answer that well-known OECD slogan with “We can´t complain”, to paraphrase a recurring refrain in Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s 1964 poem Middle Class Blues. After all, the recalibration of the world economy toward the emerging countries, mostly as a result of superior prolonged growth in the Asian giants China and India, has since 1999 helped move roughly half a billion people above $2 a day, the median income poverty threshold in developing countries. Homi Kharas´ estimates for the OECD Development Centre projected almost 70% of the world´s middle class consumption – $56 trillion by 2030 – to be outside the OECD. No wonder then that the term “emerging country middle class” has been driving big dollar signs into many eyes.Yet, the urban middle class youth is in revolt in Brazil, Turkey and other fast-growing countries. The controversy around Easterlin Paradox, a key concept of happiness economics, suggests that happiness grows more slowly than incomes. Leaders in many emerging countries are today confronted with a dilemma that reflects the dual rural-urban structure of their large societies. Read more