Peer Review in Economic Surveys: the role of the EDRC

 

The Economic and Development Review Committee (EDRC) is at the core of the OECD’s peer pressure mechanism. This committee is made up of representatives of all 34 OECD governments and the European Commission. Its role is to examine economic trends and policies in individual OECD and Key Partner countries, assess the broad performance of each economy and make policy recommendations.

Each economy is reviewed about every 2 years. The results are published as a survey of the country’s economy, aimed at promoting better understanding of its economic situation and the key challenges facing the authorities, and pointing towards ways of improving the country’s overall economic performance.

The reviews have evolved since the EDRC’s creation in 1961, when they were mostly focused on macroeconomic developments and policies. Now there is a heavy emphasis on structural policies and their interaction with macroeconomic policies. The working of labour, product and financial markets is regularly examined, together with the role of the public sector. In recent years, these reviews have been extended to Brazil, ChinaIndia, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa.

The surveys generally include a detailed analysis of a specific structural topic. Recent topics have included education, innovation, fiscal federalism, housing, migration and competition, and these have been based inter alia on cross-country analysis carried out in the Economics Department and in the specialised directorates at the OECD.

This demonstrates one of the key elements of the peer review process: examining a country’s performance in the light of the experience and lessons learnt in other countries.

The reviews are carried out by the EDRC with participation by member countries’ permanent delegates to the OECD, sometimes assisted by experts from their governments. The country under review is generally represented by a delegation of high-level government officials, although the size and composition varies. To make the process manageable and efficient, the committee designates two of its members as lead examiners for each review.

The Committee uses a draft survey prepared by the Secretariat as the basis for their examination. The Secretariat then revises the draft survey in consultation with the country under review, to take account of comments and recommendations made by the Committee. The Committee then approves a final version for publication under its own responsibility. A key element in this process is that all 34 members agree on the final report. It is not solely the responsibility of the Secretariat, although obviously its judgements are an important input, nor does it simply accommodate the views of the country under review. This process means there is a government “buy-in” to the economic policy advice offered and hence a common ownership of the product.