Consumer policy

Consumer Policy Toolkit


Latest news

On 12 March 2014, the OECD Council adopted a Recommendation on Consumer Policy Decision Making, based on the framework presented in the Consumer Policy Toolkit, and the experiences that have been gained since the Toolkit was published in 2010. Read the news release.


Chapter summaries   |   Main messages  |  What stakeholders are saying   

Did you know?  |   Get the book   |   Related reading  |   Workshop








Press release (21 July 2010)


“More choice and more complexity in many markets have made it increasingly difficult for consumers to compare and assess the value of products and services,” says Michael Jenkin, Chairman of the OECD’s Committee on Consumer Policy.


The OECD publication "Consumer Policy Toolkit" examines how markets have evolved and provides insights for improved consumer policy making. It explores, for the first time, how what we have learned through the study of behavioural economics is changing the way policy makers are addressing problems.

The book will find its audience among consumer policy makers and academics. More in the letter to policy makers [pdf, 229 kb] and a post on the OECD Insights blog.


Chapter summaries


Consumer Policy Toolkit | OECD Free preview | Powered by Keepeek Digital Asset Management Solution


ISBN: 9789264079656

Published: July 2010

128 pages



  • Chapter 1. The changing consumer and market landscape What are the key trends characterising markets and consumers?

  • Chapter 2. The economics of consumer policy  What is the basic economics underlying consumer policy? How the behavioural economics can be used to improve understanding of consumer decisions?

  • Chapter 3. Identifying and analysing consumer market problems What is the consumer detriment? How markets can be screened to detect problems where detriment may be present? How market problems can be analysed and how detriment can be measured?

  • Chapter 4. Consumer policy instruments What consumer policy instruments can be highly effective? How policy makers can identify, evaluate and test the most promising tools?

  • Chapter 5. Policy decision making Is there an effective consumer policy framework that policy makers can use? What are the implications for consumer policy making?


Detailed chapter overviews [pdf, 291 kb] 

Interactive version of the book


Main messages


 Brochure | Executive Summary  


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Portuguese Russian Slovak





What stakeholders are saying



from the European Commission

David MAIR, Head of Consumer Markets Unit, DG SANCO,
European Commission
“The Toolkit presents policy instruments, ranging from consumer empowerment tools (such as information or education) towards obligations on firms (through product standards or regulations). The publication is based on new insights of behavioural and information economics that could be helpful for all policy makers, considering whether to intervene on the market and if so, how to do it.”





from the business community

Nicole PRIMMER, Senior Policy Manager, BIAC
“Business very much welcomes this publication, particularly because of its comprehensive approach, in that it identifies the key roles of stakeholders and addresses very complex issues that are involved in the consumer policy making. It also underlines the important role of industry-led regulation in the context of consumer protection.”


from Egypt

Saeed EL ALFI, Chairman, Consumer Protection Agency, Egypt
“Nowadays, markets evolve rapidly due to global trade, the development and transfer of new technologies and services, and strong competition. Facing those challenges, consumer policy makers need to act quicker and be more persistent. The OECD and this Toolkit enable us share views and ideas, particularly from developed to developing nations, placing the interest of consumers at the core of policy making.”


Did you know?


Detailed data

[Excel sheet, 62 KB]

  • Credit card contracts were typically one page long in the 1980s compared to over 30 pages today.

  • More information is not always better for consumers.

  • Despite higher education levels in the OECD area, only a small proportion of consumers has skills needed to deal with many standard consumer contracts.

  • A sizeable population of persons are ill-equipped to cope with modern-day challenges.


Detailed data

[Excel sheet, 42 KB]

  • Over the past decades, incomes have risen in many OECD countries, as has household wealth.

  • At the same time, consumer debt relative to disposable income has increased in some countries.

  • The increases were often driven by mortgages and related long-term debt.


Get the book

 Readers can access the book choosing from the following options:

For more information, please contact us at

Other consumer policy topics are available at



 Related reading

The Toolkit helps governments to eliminate barriers to competition by providing a method for identifying unnecessary restraints on market activities and developing alternative, less restrictive measures that still achieve government policy objectives.

Policy instruments are being introduced and modified continuously by governments. Attached is a description of initiatives that have been taken by Mexico to promote and protect consumer interests.

This report provides an account of the actions the 41 adhering governments have taken over the 12 months to June 2009 to enhance the contribution of the Guidelines to the improved functioning of the global economy. In nine years, the Guidelines have consolidated their position as one of the world's principal corporate responsibility instruments as recently acknowledged at the 2009 OECD Ministerial meeting and G8 l'Aquila Summit. This 2009 edition includes the results of the 2009 OECD Roundtable on Corporate Responsibility entitled "Consumer Empowerment and Responsible Business Conduct".

Consumers today are challenged by growing amounts of information and Policy instrument update: Mexico (2011) wider choices of products, requiring them to develop skills and knowledge for making good choices in complex markets. This publication examines the approaches that governments use to promote consumer education in OECD and some non-OECD countries, highlighting the policies and measures that have been particularly effective. It also analyses recent trends, the role of stakeholders, steps being taken to evaluate the effectiveness of current programmes and the principal challenges.

This report summarises the discussions of the second roundtable, held in October 2006, which again brought together academics and public officials concerned with market failures in markets where competition is deemed effective. It considered the economic theories of information disclosure and focussed on two major industry sectors – telecommunications and financial services. In addition, a proposed programme for further action, including the development of a “toolkit” to guide demand-side policy developments, was introduced.

This report summarises the discussions held at a roundtable hosted by the CCP in October 2005. The roundtable brought together leading academics, senior government officials and consumer representatives from OECD member countries to explore developments in economic research, particularly behavioural economics, focusing on the role played by consumers in relation to the efficiency of markets. Recognising that policy makers have tended to analyse the structure of the market rather than the extent to which consumers' behaviour shapes its outcomes, the Committee explored the extent to which economists' studies of the demand-side of markets might be able to contribute further to consumer policy.


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