These notes present selected country highlights from the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2017 with a specific focus on digital trends among all themes covered.
Since joining the OECD in 1996, Korea has made impressive progress in raising living standards. Over 1996-2016, the country closed the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita gap with the OECD average by 26 percentage points. Vibrant exports underpinned strong economic growth, with Korea becoming the eighth largest exporter in the world. The country’s focus on innovation (its R&D spending is the second highest in the OECD) combined with its highly skilled population (it is among the top performers in the OECD’s Programme of International Student Assessment) supported this success. However, the convergence of Korea’s living standards to those in the most advanced countries has stalled in recent years. Output growth has slowed from 4.4% annually over 2001-10 to 2.8% since 2011. The country faces strong competition from emerging economies, notably the People’s Republic of China in low- and medium-end markets, and with advanced economies in high-end markets. This makes it more difficult for Korea to further expand its global market share.
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This spotlight on Korea is based on the data and insights presented in the OECD Digital Economy Outlook 2017. It highlights major digital developments in Korea that are crucial to leverage the potential and harness the opportunities of the digital transformation.
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Selected findings for Korea from the report "The Pursuit of Gender Equality: An Uphill Battle"
The report, building on a policy dialogue with a range of stakeholders in Korea, analyses how economic policy instruments under the responsibility of the Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport can be adjusted to contribute to water policy objectives. It also investigates how Smart Water Management Korea, an initiative by K-water that combines information and communication technology with water technology, can be harnessed to better contribute to water management in the country. Finally, it identifies some of the limitations of prevalent water allocation regimes which need to be addressed to make the best use of available water resources.
Since 1965, the Korean Government has invested heavily in quantitative development strategies to meet water needs, and despite highly variable water availability, this has allowed for and facilitated rapid urbanisation and economic growth. However, several long-term trends are expected to affect the capacity of the current water management system to adequately respond to current and future water risks, such as rapid ageing of the population, fiscal consolidation and climate change. These call for a renewed emphasis on water use efficiency.
Learn about ongoing regulatory policy developments in Korea.
The Revenue Statistics in Asian Countries publication is jointly undertaken by the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration and the OECD Development Centre. It compiles comparable tax revenue statistics for Indonesia, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. The model is the OECD Revenue Statistics database which is a fundamental reference, backed by a well-established methodology, for OECD member countries. Extending the OECD methodology to Asian countries enables comparisons about tax levels and tax structures on a consistent basis, both among Asian economies and between OECD and Asian economies.
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Korea’s labour market proved to be particularly resilient in the wake of the global financial crisis. The unemployment rate has remained very low, hovering between 3.5 and 4.5% over the past decade (it was 4.2% in April 2017), while employment, as a share of the population aged 15-74, rose steadily to reach 64.7% in the first quarter of 2017, 3.5 percentage points above the OECD average.
Regulatory reform has been a top priority in Korea for several successive administrations. Maintaining momentum for reform in Korea will be essential for producing tangible results and supporting inclusive growth, productivity and innovation. The Regulatory Reform Review of Korea provides key insights into a mature regulatory system and follows two previous Regulatory Reform Reviews of Korea completed in 2000 and 2007. It identifies a number of areas where improvements could help Korea reap the full benefits of the reforms introduced so far.
It stresses the need for a clear strategy for regulatory policy in order to make better use of the resources deployed.
Over the past ten years economic growth in Asia has contributed to a reduction of poverty as well as fertility rates, and greater prosperity has contributed to gains in life expectancy. However, at present many workers still work in informal employment, frequently for long hours at little pay and without social protection coverage. A growing demand for social support, extending the coverage of social protection benefits and improving the job quality of workers will be among Asia’s major challenges in future. This report considers these challenges, providing policy examples from countries to illustrate good practice, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore and Viet Nam.