Directorate for Public Governance and Territorial Development

OECD Regions at a Glance 2007 highlights healthcare


30/05/2007 - OECD's biennial Regions at a Glance gives comparative statistics for OECD countries, and regions within each country, related to economic indicators such as concentration of population, GDP and employment rates as well as indicators of well-being such as the distance to a major centre, reported crimes, rate of homeownership and educational attainment. 

These statistics will inform politicians, policy makers and citizens working to enhance regional competitiveness and attractiveness. The data also indicates regional disparities that can be a drain on national economies and cause the kind of social unrest seen in recent years in France and Mexico, as ‘have not’ regions cope with higher unemployment and crime rates and lower access to healthcare and education than other parts of the country.

Regions at a Glance 2007 notes that in today’s knowledge-based economies, a region’s growth prospects depend in part on its ability to generate and use innovation. This capability, in turn, depends on skills level of the regional labour force. Regional variations in educational levels are considerable - in France, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada differences in tertiary educational attainments between the best and worst performing regions exceeded 30 percentage points. In general, urban regions tend to fare better than intermediate or rural ones, with 57% of the OECD adult population with a tertiary education living in urban regions.

Looking at  national and regional access to health care and health outcomes, the publication shows that in about half the countries surveyed, with the notable exceptions of  Austria, Denmark, Greece and Spain, males living in rural regions were more likely to die prematurely, partly due to the higher number of fatal traffic accidents on country roads.  By contrast, females in urban areas were at greater risk, especially in Austria, Denmark, Japan and Poland. Statistics on smoking and obesity rates show both national and regional variations.

Statistics related to the number of physicians and nurses per capita show that in Greece, Italy and Belgium in 2004 there were four or more doctors per thousand people while in Japan, Korea, Mexico and Turkey there were two or less per thousand. In the U.S. and Turkey, the number of doctors based in urban regions is extremely high, proportional to the number of people living in the area, leaving the number based in rural regions disproportionately low.  In Spain and Mexico, there were large regional differences in the number of nurses per thousand population, while in the U.K. and Finland the distribution was more balanced.

To obtain OECD Regions at a Glance, journalists are invited to e-mail the OECD's Media Division. For further information, please contact Vincenzo Spiezia by phone at + 33 1 45 24 97 45 or e-mail