How was life in 1820, and how has it improved since then? What are the long-term trends in global well-being? Views on social progress since the Industrial Revolution are largely based on historical national accounting in the tradition of Kuznets and Maddison. But trends in real GDP per capita may not fully reflect changes in other dimensions of well-being such as life expectancy, education, personal security or gender inequality. Looking at these indicators usually reveals a more equal world than the picture given by incomes alone, but has this always been the case? The new report How Was Life? aims to fill this gap. It presents the first systematic evidence on long-term trends in global well-being since 1820 for 25 major countries and 8 regions in the world covering more than 80% of the world’s population. It not only shows the data but also discusses the underlying sources and their limitations, pays attention to country averages and inequality, and pinpoints avenues for further research.
The How Was Life? report is the product of collaboration between the OECD, the OECD Development Centre and the CLIO-INFRA project. It represents the culmination of work by a group of economic historians to systematically chart long-term changes in the dimensions of global well-being and inequality, making use of the most recent research carried out within the discipline. The historical evidence reviewed in the report is organised around 10 different dimensions of well-being that mirror those used by the OECD in its well-being report How’s Life? (www.oecd.org/howslife), and draw on the best sources and expertise currently available for historical perspectives in this field. These dimensions are:per capita GDP, real wages, educational attainment, life expectancy, height, personal security, political institutions, environmental quality, income inequality and gender inequality.
This paper estimates potential output losses from the global financial crisis by comparing recent OECD published projections with a counter-factual assuming a continuation of pre-crisis productivity trends and a trend employment rate which is sensitive to demographic trends.
Many studies on household energy efficiency investments suggest that a wide range of seemingly profitable investments are not taken up. This paper provides novel evidence on the main factors behind consumer choices using the OECD Survey on Household Environmental Behaviour and Attitudes.
OECD annual inflation eases slightly to 1.8% in August 2014
In August 2014, the OECD Development Centre, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO), initiated a three-and-a-half-year project aimed at assessing the economic contribution of labour migration in developing countries as countries of destination.
Despite large and growing investments in knowledge and innovation, productivity growth in many countries has slowed in recent years. At the same time, the urgent need for more rapid innovation (including its uptake and diffusion) in several key areas, such as in environment. This joint OECD-NBER workshop on 25-26 September 2014 will bring together academic experts to consider these challenges.
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Bribery is a threat to good governance, sustainable economic development, democracy and people’s welfare. The corrosive effects of bribery can spread across borders, affecting economies and societies everywhere. The ability to address bribery, both domestically and internationally, is impaired by a lack of transparency, accountability and integrity in the public and private sectors.
The global economy is continuing to expand at a moderate and uneven pace. The tepid rate of growth means that a substantial degree of labour market slack remains, especially in the euro area, and world trade growth remains sluggish. The OECD has identified more than 980 structural reform commitments made by G20 members in their revised Growth Strategies.
Increasing productivity is critical to achieving strong, sustainable and inclusive growth and well-being. Technological change and innovation are the key drivers of increased productivity, along with better skills and organisational change.
Rising household debt has become a major policy concern in Korea. By the end of 2012, it had risen to 164% of disposable income, well above the OECD average of 133%.