Key policy responses from the OECD

Building confidence amid an uncertain recovery

OECD Economic Outlook, Interim Report September 2020

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24/09/2020
The COVID-19 crisis has forced education systems worldwide to find alternatives to face-to-face instruction. As a result, online teaching and learning have been used by teachers and students on an unprecedented scale. Since lockdowns – either massive or localised - may be needed again in the future to respond to new waves of the infection until a vaccine becomes available, it is of utmost importance for governments to identify which policies can maximise the effectiveness of online learning. This policy brief examines the role of students’ attitudes towards learning in maximising the potential of online schooling when regular face-to-face instruction cannot take place. Since parents and teachers play a fundamental role in supporting students to develop these crucial attitudes, particularly in the current situation, targeted policy interventions should be designed with the aim of reducing the burden on parents and help teachers and schools make the most of digital learning.
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22/09/2020
This policy brief focuses on how to ensure that a gender lens is well-integrated through response, recovery, and prevention efforts to COVID-19 in development co-operation. In the context of COVID-19, how can OECD countries and other development providers improve the quality of their policies and practices for gender equality, as well as raise investments in gender equality in key sectors? Development partners will need to identify challenges and areas of risk brought about by the pandemic, as well as integrate concerns for gender equality into decision making around issues ranging from economic stimulus packages to redoubling financing and improving policies and practices across a range of sectors. This approach also implies ensuring women’s representation in leadership and decision making at every level when responding to the COVID-19 crisis. This policy brief provides some arguments for why a gender-responsive recovery to COVID-19 is essential for sustainable and inclusive growth, and initial guidance for making improvements in the area of gender equality and development.
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21/09/2020
The COVID‑19 pandemic has posed two major risks to platform workers – exposure to the virus and income loss – compounded by the generally lower levels of access among platform workers to benefits compared with individuals in standard employment. This note examines the measures taken by platform companies to protect the health and the incomes of workers using their platforms during the pandemic, and captures the views of the platform workers regarding the adequacy of these measures.
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16/09/2020
This brief analyses how countries can achieve more effective, timely and sustainable responses to the COVID-19 crisis by taking into account regulatory barriers and compliance issues. Drawing upon previous work on administrative barriers and procedures as well as regulatory enforcement and inspections, the brief identifies several key regulatory aspects of the COVID-19 crisis response. These include: 1) facilitating the supply and availability of essential goods for crisis response, 2) reconciling privacy concerns with effectiveness for tracing and/or “track-and-trace” approaches, and 3) fostering and maintaining compliance with mitigation measures through targeted, proportionate enforcement and transparent communication. This brief discusses simplification and removal of disproportionate or non-risk-based barriers, as well as the importance of ensuring effective regulation of major risks, and achieving sustained compliance with key safety measures.
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14/09/2020
This Policy Brief focuses on how countries can create opportunities for a green and inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. A green recovery will significantly enhance the resilience of economies and societies in the face of both the severe recession and accelerating environmental challenges. The Brief also undertakes a preliminary review of announced recovery and stimulus policies in OECD and Key Partner countries. While many countries are focusing on measures that can drive sustainability while boosting jobs, income and growth, a number of countries are proposing measures that support environmentally damaging activities. Measuring and evaluating the environmental impacts of recovery policies over time is crucial, and a set of indicators, covering a broad array of critical environmental dimensions, is proposed for this purpose.
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09/09/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to limit the spread of the disease have significantly disrupted economic activity in countries around the world, resulting in significant business interruption losses. The vast majority of these losses are likely to be absorbed by policyholders as, unless governments (or courts) intervene, few companies have business interruption coverage that is likely to respond to these types of losses–exposing the existence of an important protection gap for some pandemic-related business interruption losses. This note provides an overview of how business interruption insurance against pandemic risk could be provided with support from governments, and some of the challenges and considerations necessary for establishing such a programme.
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09/09/2020
This policy brief focuses on the immediate and medium term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis for justice systems and their users, and proposes steps that can be taken during this period to ensure access to justice for all. It draws nine key lessons from the crisis for justice systems to develop stronger people-centred practices and contribute to an inclusive economic recovery. Its associated Compendium of Country Practices gathers good practice examples from across the globe to support justice systems in maintaining service provisions even during lockdowns, protecting the most vulnerable and undertaking remarkable innovations as a result of the crisis.
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07/09/2020
The ongoing health and economic crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the required physical distancing measures force many firms to introduce telework (working from home) on a large scale. This may catalyse wider adoption of teleworking practices also after the crisis, with a wide range of impacts and uncertain net effects on productivity and other indicators. Public policies and co-operation among social partners are crucial to ensure that new, efficient and welfare-improving working methods emerging during the crisis are maintained and developed once physical distancing is over. To maximise the gains for productivity and welfare inherent in the use of more widespread telework, governments should promote investments in the physical and managerial capacity of firms and workers to telework and address potential concerns for worker well-being and longer-term innovation related in particular to the excessive downscaling of workspaces.
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07/09/2020
Cultural and creative sectors are important in their own right in terms of their economic footprint and employment. They also spur innovation across the economy, as well as contribute to numerous other channels for positive social impact (well-being and health, education, inclusion, urban regeneration, etc.). They are among the hardest hit by the pandemic, with large cities often containing the greatest share of jobs at risk. The dynamics vary across sub-sectors, with venue-based activities and the related supply chains most affected. Policies to support firms and workers during the pandemic can be ill-adapted to the non-traditional business models and forms of employment in the sector. In addition to short-term support for artists and firms, which comes from both the public and private sector, policies can also leverage the economic and social impacts of culture in their broader recovery packages and efforts to transform local economies.
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02/09/2020
Centres of government (CoGs) have played an important role in tackling the crisis caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This paper discusses the high-level institutional arrangements put in place by governments to manage policy responses to the pandemic, with a special focus on CoG’s leading or supporting role in three main dimensions: co-ordination and strategic planning, the use of evidence to inform decision-making, and communicating decisions to the public. As governments face unprecedented governance challenges, the pandemic has uncovered gaps in both government co-ordination and the use of evidence for policy making, which directly affect the nature and quality of the measures adopted to tackle the crisis and its aftermath. These challenges have led to a number of quick fixes and agile responses, which will need to be assessed when the worst of the crisis is over.
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11/08/2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is harming health, social and material well-being of children worldwide, with the poorest children, including homeless children and children in detention, hit hardest. School closures, social distancing and confinement increase the risk of poor nutrition among children, their exposure to domestic violence, increase their anxiety and stress, and reduce access to vital family and care services. Widespread digitalisation mitigates the education loss caused by school-closures, but the poorest children are least likely to live in good home-learning environments with internet connection. Furthermore, increased unsupervised on-line internet use has magnified issues around sexual exploitation and cyber-bullying. Immediate government measures need to ensure that children have access to good food, receive protection against child abuse and neglect, have continued access to child physical and mental health services, and can navigate safely on the internet. Policies also need to support parental employment since it is key to fighting child poverty.
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04/08/2020
This brief discusses the existing obstacles in developing international clinical trials that are critical to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides information on relevant adaptations of regulatory requirements for clinical trials, intended to accelerate the processes, and highlights the need to harmonise further these regulations between national regulatory authorities. To this end, this brief describes the existing OECD Recommendation on the Governance of Clinical Trials issued in 2012 and how its implementation could greatly facilitate and streamline the registration and conduct of international clinical trials.
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03/08/2020
Job retention (JR) schemes have been one of the main policy tools used by a number of OECD countries to contain the employment and social fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. By May 2020, JR schemes supported about 50 million jobs across the OECD, about ten times as many as during the global financial crisis of 2008-09. By reducing labour costs, JR schemes have prevented a surge in unemployment, while they have mitigated financial hardship and buttressed aggregate demand by supporting the incomes of workers on reduced working time. However, as the first wave of the health crisis is receding in some OECD countries and government restrictions to economic activities are being withdrawn, JR schemes need to adjust. This requires a better targeting of JR support to jobs that are viable but at risk of being terminated and a greater focus on supporting workers at risk of becoming unemployed, rather than their jobs.
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31/07/2020
The focus of this brief is on the policy responses that governments can and are taking through the channel of inter-governmental relations to tackle the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Sub-national governments are playing a crucial role in the current crisis, and past experience suggests they will need sufficient support to ensure they can confront the risks. Co-ordinated action across different levels of government is essential to ensuring that responses to the crisis are effective across all regions within countries
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30/07/2020
Tax administrations around the globe are taking on new responsibilities to support wider government actions to help address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These responsibilities often go beyond the functions normally provided by tax administrations and can present a number of challenges as well as opportunities for the future, including around increased agility and improved whole of government working. This document, produced by the OECD Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) Secretariat in collaboration with the FTA Enterprise Risk Management Community of Interest, sets out some considerations that tax administrations may wish to take into account in addressing aspects of these challenges as well providing a number of examples of assistance provided by different tax administrations.
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30/07/2020
The “social economy” has played an important role in addressing and mitigating the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on economy and society. In the short term, social economy actors have assisted the recovery from the crisis by providing innovative solutions that are aimed at strengthening public services to complement government action. In the long term, social economy organisations can help reshape the post-crisis economy by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic models. Relying on decades of experience, its specific features and underlying principles, the social economy can inspire models of social innovation and a sense of purpose to firms operating in the market economy.
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30/07/2020
The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has presented governments with unprecedented challenges in ensuring not only the health of their citizens but also public service continuity. Governments had to purchase vital health products swiftly whilst ensuring smooth and accountable management of ongoing contracts to continue providing public services to their citizens. Critical infrastructure is also particularly important during the COVID-19 response not only for public health and safety, but for broader community well-being. The pandemic has created a radically new, and constantly changing, purchasing environment. The sudden reduction in economic activity has equally put severe stress on the infrastructure sector. This policy brief examines the immediate infrastructure governance and public procurement policy responses taken by OECD and selected non-OECD countries during the first phase of the crisis. It also highlights which dimensions of these responses need to be revisited in order to strengthen resilience for future emergencies.
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28/07/2020
As part of the digitalisation of the economy, satellite signals and data play an increasingly pivotal role in the efficient functioning of societies and their economic development. The recent growth in the sector has generated unprecedented levels of entrepreneurship and start-up activity. However, with the COVID-19 crisis, this positive trend could be reversed. While many space sector firms seem to be able to cope, a significant number is struggling, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises that constitute the bulk of commercial actors in the space industry. Considering the high costs of entry to the sector, there is a risk that the crisis could lead to more industry concentration, eliminating smaller and younger firms that are key sources of innovation, employment and economic growth. Space agencies and other public administrations therefore need to fully consider vulnerable smaller actors in their overall crisis responses.
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27/07/2020
This policy brief was developed by the Secretariat of the OECD Network of Economic Regulators (NER) and is based on examples of practice submitted by members of the NER. It reviews emergency measures taken by economic regulators during the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure continuity of services in network sectors, as well as to adjust regulatory practices and adapt governance arrangements. It identifies long-term questions and implications of the crisis with regard to market structure, infrastructure investment and the role of regulators.
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24/07/2020
The COVID‑19 crisis has resulted in a significant increase in online learning by adults. Much of the training that had started as face-to-face in classroom environments has been pursued online. Furthermore, individuals are being encouraged to use the time freed up by short-time work schemes to take up new training. As such, the crisis provides a powerful test of the potential of learning online. It also highlights its key limitations, including the prerequisite of adequate digital skills, computer equipment and internet access to undertake training online, the difficulty of delivering traditional work-based learning online, and the struggle of teachers used to classroom instruction. This brief discusses the potential of online learning to increase adult learning opportunities and identifies some key issues that the crisis has highlighted. Addressing these issues could contribute to expanding online learning provision in the post-crisis period and to making it more inclusive.
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