Focus on social challenges

This page features the latest OECD data, recommendations and policy advice regarding the impact of COVID-19 on social protection, well-being, education and skills, as well as a curated collection of earlier OECD social content.

OECD Economic Outlook

Adapting recovery to the culture sector

Home sweet home

Latest social challenges insights

Children in care

Assisting care leavers


Inclusive learning

Building on COVID-19's innovation momentum for digital, inclusive education


informal care

Supporting informal carers of older people

Working paper

Young people

Delivering for youth

Policy response

Education & Inequality

Mending the education divide


Covid & Employment

Riding the waves: Adjusting job retention schemes through the COVID-19 crisis

Policy response

Youth & Covid

What about us?

Data Insights

Inclusive recovery

Spotlight on an inclusive recovery


Browse all related resources

filter by language
filter by content type
366 results available
Sort by date 
Trade in illicit alcohol products is an attractive target for organised crime, as both the market and potential profits are large, in some cases requiring little investment. The illicit alcohol trade not only fuels criminal networks, but also poses significant risks to public health and safety. This report structures and enhances existing evidence on illicit alcohol trade. It examines the nature and scope of illicit trade in the sector, assesses the impacts of illicit trade on socio-economic development, and identifies the factors driving illicit trade in the sector.
Read in
Young adults who have lived in out-of-home care at some point during their childhood often struggle to build stable lives. This is not surprising: typically young care leavers not only have to overcome a difficult childhood, but also tend to receive less support during the crucial years of early adulthood than youth living with their parents. In response to their poor socio-economic outcomes, many agencies responsible for improving outcomes for young people are experimenting with transition programmes for young adults leaving care. This policy report identifies the key challenges that care leavers face and provides a range of good practice examples in OECD countries to promote cross-country learning, help strengthen the international evidence base and support countries to improve their policies for young people leaving their care.
Read in
The OECD Global Action “Promoting Social and Solidarity Economy Ecosystems”, funded by the European Union, through its work stream on legal frameworks, endeavours to: 1) increase knowledge and understanding on legal frameworks for the social and solidarity economy; 2) explore approaches and trends of legal frameworks to regulate the social and solidarity economy as a whole and social economy organisations; and 3) understand how legal frameworks can be used to promote and develop the social and solidarity economy in different contexts. This paper defines the legal notions, traditions and approaches to better understand legal frameworks that regulate the field. It presents and analyses the diversity, relevance and implications of legal frameworks that regulate the social economy; takes stock of the processes that lead to their design and implementation; identifies possible criteria for assessing their performance; and highlights the crosscutting issues and policy examples that could inspire countries.
Read in
Cultural and creative sectors and industries are a significant source of jobs and income. They are a driver of innovation and creative skills, within cultural sectors and beyond. They also have significant social impacts, from supporting health and well-being, to promoting social inclusion and local social capital. As national and local governments reconsider growth models in the wake of COVID-19, cultural and creative sectors can be a tool for a resilient recovery if certain longer-term challenges in the sector are addressed. The report outlines international trends with new data, including at subnational scale. It addresses issues in cultural and creative sectors in terms of employment, business development, cultural participation and funding, both public and private. It provides analysis of how these sectors contribute to economic growth and inclusion, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 related crisis on jobs and firms. Finally, it offers recommendations on how to capitalise on the role of cultural and creative sectors in national and local recovery strategies.
Read in
Africa’s Development Dynamics uses lessons from Central, East, North, Southern and West Africa to develop policy recommendations and share good practices. Drawing on the most recent statistics, the analysis of development dynamics aims to assist African leaders in reaching the targets of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 at all levels: continental, regional, national and local.The 2022 edition explores how developing regional value chains can help African countries rebound from the socio-economic shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and accelerate productive transformation. It targets policy areas where private and public actors can support regional value chains when operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). African firms can harness digital innovations to reduce production costs, and governments can design policies for skills development, public procurement and foreign investment to strengthen industrial linkages. Two continental chapters examine related African initiatives and global trends. Five chapters tailor policy recommendations to specific value chains in each region.Africa’s Development Dynamics feeds into a policy debate between governments, citizens, entrepreneurs and researchers. It proposes a new collaboration between countries and regions, focusing on mutual learning and the preservation of common goods. This report results from a partnership between the African Union Commission and the OECD Development Centre.
This fifth edition of Society at a Glance: Asia/Pacific provides an overview of social indicators for the region. Quantitative evidence on social indicators such as poverty, social expenditures, and demographic trends across countries in Asia and the Pacific helps economies identify where they can learn from the experience of other countries. Chapter 1 introduces this volume and provides readers with a guide to help them interpret OECD Social Indicators. The remainder of the publication presents the indicators in a standardised format: one page of figures and accompanying text, pointing the reader to sources and potential caveats with measurement issues. The indicators are grouped into five chapters: general context, self-sufficiency, equity, health and social cohesion. Each chapter holds five indicators, but the health chapter includes an additional indicator to illustrate recent trends in cases and deaths related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Read in
Education systems can build on school-led micro-innovations during the pandemic to develop more equitable learning. Empowering teachers to be autonomous, actively engaged in designing learning environments, and knowledgeable and dynamic in using multi-modal technology can encourage more peer-to-peer collaboration in schools and enrich pedagogy. This will be crucial in addressing the learning needs of disadvantaged students and boosting science proficiency with the goal of societal equity.
Read in
In February 2019, the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) adopted its Recommendation on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus, in order to foster greater coherence among actors working to strengthen resilience in fragile contexts and address the root causes of humanitarian challenges. In advance of the monitoring report due in 2024, this interim progress review analyses adherents’ efforts to align their work with the principles of the Recommendation. It documents the progress of DAC and United Nations adherents in taking forward the triple nexus approach, while pointing to remaining gaps between the Recommendation’s aspirations and these adherents’ practice across co-ordination, programming, and financing. The report identifies nine areas where to accelerate the move from policy to action.
Read in
The early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce is foundational for providing high-quality learning, development and well-being experiences for young children. Policies can support the development of this workforce by addressing requirements for initial education and continuing professional development, as well as the working conditions of ECEC staff. Examining different policy approaches with a focus on Ireland and Luxembourg, this Policy Brief highlights key opportunities for peer learning across countries interested in enhancing process quality in ECEC through workforce development.
Read in
Informal carers – family and friends who perform care - are the first line of support for older people. About 60% of older people who receive care at home report receiving only informal care across OECD countries.While informal carers help to contain public costs, those costs are borne elsewhere. Women perform the majority of informal care, posing a barrier to their labour market participation. It is generally impacted when caring over 20 hours per week. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased pressures on carers.Making informal care a choice without constrains requires a comprehensive set of policies. Countries have taken steps, though more could be done. While access to information has improved, counselling and training depends heavily on the voluntary sector and respite typically remains insufficient. About two-thirds of OECD countries provide direct or indirect cash benefits to informal carers. Nearly two-thirds also mandate paid or unpaid care leave entitlements.
Read in
Cette publication fournit des données détaillées sur le volume, la provenance and les types d'aide et d'autres apports de ressources attribués à chacun d'environ 150 pays en voie de développement. Les données statistiques couvrent les apports d'aide publique au développement et les autres financements publics et privés fournis à chaque pays bénéficiaire par chacun des membres du Comité d'aide au développement de l'OCDE, par les organismes multilatéraux ainsi que par d'autres fournisseurs. Des indicateurs socio-économiques de base sont présentés pour information.
This paper delivers new evidence for European countries on the role of a wide range of policies for workers’ mobility in terms of hiring transitions into jobs, with an emphasis on differences across socio-economic groups. Labour market transitions are relevant in the current context where the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 crisis is characterised by labour shortages and at the same time still low employment in a number of countries. The analysis focuses on the probability to transition from unemployment and selected forms of inactivity (e.g. fulfilling domestic tasks, studying) to jobs and from one job to another. Results of this work show the strong association between hiring flows and the business cycle with specific patterns during recoveries, recessions and expansions. The analysis further reveals that a broad range of policies influence hiring transitions, such as labour market policies, taxes and social support programmes but also product market regulations and regulations affecting certain professions. Country-specific priorities will vary depending on context, challenges and social preferences. Yet common policy objectives at the current recovery context are likely to improve the job prospects of the non-employed, especially youth, low-skilled and women, to help the recovery, foster reallocation and to address labour shortages.
Read in
Information and communication technology (ICT) has become an important tool for school systems as they seek to enhance education and make it more efficient. This has become all the more apparent and urgent with the COVID-19 pandemic. But what degree of access do students from different socio-economic backgrounds have to ICT-based quality instruction? Overall, disadvantaged students tend to have less access to digital learning opportunities both at home and at school. The data also suggest that the way teachers with certain characteristics are distributed can facilitate better equity. Two examples highlighted in this brief are teachers’ digital self-efficacy and training in ICT-based instruction.
Governments across the OECD are investing significant resources to address the immediate and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that the crisis has affected different age groups differently and that its repercussions will be felt by many for decades to come, governments need to adopt an integrated public governance approach to COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. This policy brief presents the views of a non-representative sample of 151 youth organisations from 72 countries, including 100 youth organisations based in 36 OECD countries, on how young people have been experiencing the crisis and related government action. It is complemented by an analysis of the measures adopted across 34 OECD countries and provides recommendations on how to deliver a fair, inclusive and resilient recovery for young people through a range of public governance approaches.
The young, the low educated, migrants, racial/ethnic minorities and low-wage workers were over-represented in jobs that cannot be done remotely and were therefore exposed to a higher risk of infection or job loss when the pandemic began. Many of those employed in these at-risk jobs were the frontline workers who continued to work in their physical workplace and in contact with other people throughout the pandemic to deliver essential goods and services. Indeed, the crisis has highlighted the extent to which society depends upon frontline workers who are often employed in low-paid jobs whose quality matches neither the importance of the work, nor the hazards involved. Other workers in at-risk jobs suffered particularly large losses in employment and income. In particular, both migrants and workers from racial/ethnic minorities were hit harder initially and are recovering more slowly.
Read in
This document provides an update on the use of job retention (JR) schemes during the COVID-19 crisis until the end of 2021 and takes stock of the different strategies employed by OECD governments to adjust them as the crisis evolved. It provides three key insights. First, since reaching a peak of 20% of employment in April/May 2020 on average across OECD countries, the use of JR support has declined to 1.3% in November/December 2021. Second, countries have used different approaches to adjust temporary JR provisions during the course of the crisis, with some phasing them out, some providing increasingly targeted support and others keeping temporary measures unchanged. Third, JR schemes have tended to become more targeted by directing support towards jobs in firms that had been affected most by the pandemic, but remained viable in the medium term. A majority of countries now require co‑financing by firms for hours not worked under these schemes in contrast to the start of the crisis when most countries exempted firms from subsidising the costs associated with hours not worked.
Read in
Teachers can shape their students' educational careers. Research shows that children taught by different teachers often experience very different educational outcomes. This begs the questions: how are teachers assigned to schools in different countries? And to what extent do students from different backgrounds have access to good teachers? Building on literature identifying the characteristics and practices of teaching that boost student achievement, this report shows how teachers with different characteristics and practices tend to concentrate in different schools, and how much access students with different socio-economic backgrounds have to good teachers. It points out the aspects of different educational systems that influence how teachers are allocated to schools. The report also discusses the consequences that inequitable teacher allocation systems have on students’ educational outcomes.
Read in
The recovery from the COVID‑19 pandemic is likely to trigger job reallocation between sectors and occupations and, with it, a need to provide career guidance and advice to adults in need of upskilling and reskilling. But the crisis has also resulted in a sudden shift in much of the delivery of career guidance from in-person to remote. This policy brief describes the impact of the pandemic on the demand for and the delivery of career guidance, documents countries’ efforts to maintain provision of career guidance services during lockdowns, and explores the need to scale up career guidance going forward. Given the importance of career guidance in keeping workers’ skills relevant and improving the match between the demand and supply of skills, this brief also offers policy directions to improve its coverage, use and quality.
Read in
Although men and women are typically taxed under the same rules, their different social and economic characteristics (e.g. income levels or labour force participation) mean that the tax system can inadvertently contribute to gender inequalities in society. Understanding and improving the impact of taxes on gender equality is a key dimension that governments need to consider as part of tax design to support inclusive growth. This report provides the first cross-country overview of governments' approaches to tax policy and gender, including reforms undertaken to date and potential areas of explicit and implicit gender bias. Covering 43 countries, it also explores the extent to which governments take into account gender implications in policy development, gender considerations in tax administration and compliance, and the availability and use of gender-disaggregated data. Finally, it also discusses priorities for further work on tax policy and gender issues.
The labour market outcomes for native- and foreign-born adults during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic vary considerably across countries – with inequalities in employment even falling in some cases compared to 2017. In contrast with the 2008 financial crisis, greater educational attainment does not seem to have had a clear protective effect against labour market adversities during the pandemic. This is most likely due to countries’ quick action to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and the high involvement of workers with low qualifications to maintain essential services during prolonged confinement periods. However, in some countries, inequalities in earnings were widening before the pandemic and unless appropriate measures are put in place, the economic effects of the current crisis may have a long-lasting negative effect on the integration of immigrants.
Read in
Show more 
Photo credits ©: Shutterstock