17/09/2001 - For governments trying to promote social cohesion while fighting social exclusion, one of the most vital tools is data. What is the shape of society and what are the trends? What percentage of people are single, married or divorced? Are more people or fewer in prison, pregnant or on drugs-
A new OECD publication gives a snapshot view of such data. Society at a Glance: OECD Social Indicators provides an overview of social trends and policy developments in OECD countries using indicators culled from OECD studies and other sources. The indicators include information on the numbers of asylum seekers and suicides, divorce and fertility rates, (low-paid) employment, joblessness, replacement rates, days lost to strikes, prison populations, gender wage gaps, longevity, health infrastructure and education and poverty levels.
Society at a Glance identifies three types of indicators: Context indicators, illustrating differences in national environments (e.g. national income, old-age dependency ratios, fertility rates and divorce rates) in areas that are the focus of social policies; Social Status indicators, highlighting social situations, such as poverty, that are a priority for policy action; and Societal Response indicators, illustrating the way in which society is responding, for example through social spending, to such challenges.
To bring these indicators into sharper focus, the report groups them under four broad policy objectives: enhancing self-sufficiency; promoting equity by overcoming social or labour market disadvantages; improving the health status of populations; and promoting social cohesion.
For further information, journalists are invited to contact Willem Adema (tel. 33 1 45 24 15 57) or Mark Pearson (tel. 33 1 45 24 92 69) in the OECD's Directorate for Education, Employment, Labour and Social Affairs.