Social and welfare issues
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, commonly known as the Nordic countries, have been leaders in the development of modern family and gender policy, and the explicit promotion of gender equality at home, at work, and in public life. Today, on many measures, they boast some of the most gender-equal labour markets in the OECD.
This report shows that improvements in gender equality have contributed considerably to economic growth in the Nordic countries. Increases in female employment alone are estimated to account for anywhere between roughly 0.05 and 0.40 percentage points to average annual GDP per capita growth – equivalent to 3 to 20% of total GDP per capita growth over the past 50 years or so, depending on the country.
The Nordic countries are closer than most to achieving gender equality in the labour market. But the last mile may well prove to be the longest one. To make further progress, a continued assessment of the effectiveness of existing public policies and workplace practices is needed. Only with resolve and a continued focus can Nordic countries ensure that men and women contribute to their economies and societies in gender equal measure.
Finland has taken the decision to test a basic income for unemployed job seekers from the beginning of 2017. The trial will run for two years. The main goal behind the experiment is to see if the mechanism of a basic income (unconditional financial support paid regularly to customers) will increase the incentive for recipients to take up and stay in employment.
Job displacement (involuntary job loss due to firm closure or downsizing) affects many workers over their lifetime. Displaced workers may face long periods of unemployment and, even when they find new jobs, tend to be paid less and have fewer benefits than in their prior jobs. Helping them get back into good jobs quickly should be a key goal of labour market policy. This report is part of a series of nine reports looking at how this challenge is being tackled in a number of OECD countries. It shows that Finland has a higher rate of job displacement than most OECD countries but that most of these workers find a new job again relatively quickly. However, those who do not face a considerable risk of long-term unemployment; with older displaced workers and those with a low level of education facing the highest risk. While labour market institutions in Finland serve most displaced jobseekers well, there is room to improve policies for those at risk of long-term unemployment or inactivity who would benefit from earlier identification of their problems and early, effective and well-targeted counselling and intervention.
Governments should invest more money on children in the first six years of their lives to reduce social inequality and help all children, especially the most vulnerable, have happier lives, according to the OECD’s first ever report on child well-being in its 30 member countries.
Too many workers leave the labour market permanently due to health problems, and yet too many people with a disabling condition are denied the opportunity to work. This third report in the OECD series Sickness, Disability and Work explores the possible factors behind this paradox. It looks specifically at the cases of Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands, and highlights the roles of institutions and policies. A range of reform recommendations is put forward to deal with specific challenges facing the four countries.