Latvia’s economy has grown robustly in recent years on the back of a strong track record in implementing structural reforms, despite a challenging international environment. Rising wages have supported household consumption. After a severe setback in 2008-09, catch-up with higher income OECD countries may have resumed. Government finances are solid and financial market confidence in Latvia is strong. Private sector indebtedness is now lower than in many OECD economies. Export performance, including diversification of products and destinations, is improving, but Latvia’s participation in global value chains is modest. Latvia’s exports still rely heavily on low value-added, natural resource intensive products, reflecting in part skills shortages and weak innovation. Unemployment remains high, although it has fallen. Many young Latvians emigrate. Informal economic activity is still widespread.
High long-term unemployment, weak social safety nets and high labour taxes for workers on low pay contribute to widespread poverty. Many low-income households are inadequately housed. High out-of-pocket payments limit access of low-income households to health services. Improving access to housing, health care, education and training would improve economic opportunities for low-income households and requires additional government spending.
SPECIAL FEATURES : MOVING UP THE GLOBAL VALUE CHAIN; ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE
In 2016, preliminary data show that ODA reached USD 28 million (0.10% of GNI). In 2015, Latvia’s net ODA amounted to USD 23 million, representing an increase of 9% in real terms over 2014.
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Unemployment in Latvia has been on a downward trajectory since it reached a record high of 20.4% at the height of the global financial crisis (Q1 2010). It is now 9.7%, but it remains above the OECD average of 6.2%.
The tax burden on labour income is expressed by the tax wedge, which is a measure of the net tax burden on labour income borne by the employee and the employer.
The Review of Corporate Governance in Latvia was prepared as part of the process of Latvia’s accession to OECD Membership. The report describes the corporate governance setting for both listed companies and the state-owned sector (SOEs). The Review then examines the legal and regulatory framework and company practices to assess the degree to which the recommendations of the G20/OECD Principles of Corporate Governance and the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises have been implemented. The report finds that Latvia's framework for the corporate governance of listed companies is largely consistent with the Principles. However, the report recommends a series of measures to further strengthen the corporate governance framework, which could help to deepen its currently small capital market and attract investment. For SOEs, the report recognises considerable reforms undertaken during the accession review process to establish an ownership co-ordination unit and to begin re-establishing boards of directors (which had been abolished in 2009). The report calls for consolidation of these reforms and also stresses the importance of clarifying SOE objectives and strategies, and enhancing disclosure.
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Trade in services drives the exchange of ideas, know-how and technology which helps firms cut costs, increase productivity and boost competitiveness. However, international trade in services is often impeded by trade and investment barriers and domestic regulations. This index helps identify which policy measures restrict trade in Latvia.
This country note presents student performance in science, reading and mathematics, and measures equity in education in Latvia. The interactive charts allow you to compare results with other countries participating in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
Latvia has successfully consolidated its hospital sector and strengthened primary care since the financial crisis. But persistent barriers to accessing high quality care need to be removed, according to a new OECD report.
Latvia’s health system broadly delivers effective and efficient care to the population within a context of significantly fewer resources – and higher health care needs – than most OECD countries. Latvia has successfully consolidated its hospital sector and strengthened primary care. Average length of stay in hospital fell by almost 15% between 2005 and 2013, and GPs are now required to follow up on patients who called for emergency medical assistance but were not hospitalised. OECD health systems could learn much from these reforms as well as longer-standing institutions, such as Latvia’s feldshers (physician assistants). Latvia nevertheless faces important challenges to improve the performance of its health system. Up to one in five Latvians report forgoing health care because of the cost; waiting times for key diagnostic and treatment services can be long; and inclusion of key treatments in the publicly-funded benefits basket does not always reflect latest best practice. Critically, the health system lags behind many OECD countries in the extent to which data are used to systematically measure, compare and improve the performance of services, especially at more granular provider or local levels. This review aims to support Latvia in continuing reform of its health system, informed by international best practice.
Regulators are proactive referees of the sectors they regulate, contributing to the delivery of essential public utilities for citizens. To fulfill this function, they need to be constantly alert, checking sectoral trends as well as assessing the impact of their decisions. However, while measuring regulators’ performance is essential, it is also challenging, from defininig what should be measured to attributing impacts to regulators' decisions. To address these challenges, the OECD has developed an innovative framework that looks at the institutions, processes and practices that help regulators assess their performance. The framework has been applied to Latvia's Public Utilities Commission, which is responsible for regulating energy, communications, water and waste. The review offers unique insights into the work of a multi-sector regulator, identifying the organisational features that allow lessons and experiences to be shared across sectors and contribute to good performance. It highlights the importance of clarifying the role and functions of the regulator and its relationship with other public institutions, setting long-term strategic objectives for the regulator's activities, and having the right regulatory tools with appropriate incentives for the efficient and effective provision of public utility services.