Labour markets, human capital and inequality

Economic Policy Reforms: Going for Growth 2007


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Going for Growth is an OECD flagship publication alongside the OECD Economic Outlook and OECD Economic Surveys. First published in 2005, this annual periodical provides an overview of structural policy developments in OECD countries from a comparative perspective. Based on a broad set of indicators of structural policies and performance, this edition takes stock of the recent progress made in implementing policy reforms and identifies, for each OECD country, five policy priorities to lift growth. It calls for reforms in areas such as product and labour market regulation, taxation, pension, income support, health and education to boost labour productivity and employment.

Material from the press conference

Editorial  by OECD Chief Economist Jean-Philippe Cotis

 Part I:  Taking Stock of Structural Policies in OECD Countries

Chapter 1. Structural policy priorities: overview
A large number of OECD countries have failed to close the gap in GDP per capita vis-à-vis the United States over the past decade, calling for a re-assessment of the main policies having an impact on the key growth drivers. This Chapter provides an overview of broad trends in growth performance over the recent past and the policy priorities that have been identified in each country to address specific performance weaknesses. Given that high unemployment and low labour force participation remain a major preoccupation in many Continental european countries, measures to improve the labour market performance account for the bulk of policy priorities in these economies. For low-income countries, as well as in Japan and Switzerland, raising productivity is the main challenge and hence priorities tend to focus more on liberalisation of product markets, especially in network industries and services. English-speaking countries have generally good labour market performance, but share in common the need to raise the skills level, in particular via an improvement of secondary education.

Chapter 2. Country notes
This chapter contains information about the progress in implementing reforms in line with the 2006 priorities (2006 country notes) for individual OECD member countries and for the European Union. 





Czech Republic


European Union














New Zealand





Slovak Republic





United Kingdom

United States

Chapter 3. Structural policy indicators
This chapter contains comparative OECD indicators for labour costs and labour taxation; unemployment, disability and sickness income support; labour market and product market regulation; barriers to competition, trade and investment, sectoral regulation, educational attainment and achievement; health expenditure; and public investment. These indicators have been used to identify the policy priorities that are discussed in this report.

 Part II:  Thematic Studies

Chapter 4. The employment effects of policies and institutions
Beside the positive social impact of employment, labour utilisation is a key determinant of material living standards. In this regard, persistent cross-country differences in employment rates explain a good deal of the observed gaps in GDP per capita. These differences appear to reflect to a significant extent the impact of policy and institutional settings, which vary substantially in terms of effectiveness across OECD countries. This chapter builds on new OECD research undertaken in the context of the reassessment of the OECD Jobs Strategy to identify some of the main policies and institutions affecting employment outcomes.

Chapter 5. Product market regulation and productivity convergence
Rapid technological progress over recent years has offered the opportunity for all countries to increase their level of productivity and prosperity.  However, some economies have been better able to take advantage of these innovations.  Those with lightly regulated product markets have tended to gain most.  This chapter summarises new OECD research that shows how competition-restraining regulations in product markets slow the diffusion of new innovations, notably by reducing investment in information and communications technologies, and hindering inward foreign direct investment.

Chapter 6. Policies to strengthen competition in product markets
In the past decades, economic performance in most OECD countries has benefited from reforms of product market policies that have strengthened the intensity of competition in goods and services markets. Drawing on in-depth reviews in recent Economic Surveys of individual OECD countries, this chapter takes stock of policies that influence competition, with a focus on the remaining obstacles to competition rather than on the progress achieved to date. It shows that enforcement of competition laws differs across OECD countries; regulations still limit competition in a number of sectors, notably in services; and the design of regulations in network industries does not always ensure access to networks or provide incentives to expand capacity.

Chapter 7. What shapes the implementation of structural reform?
Over the past decades many OECD governments have devised structural reforms in product and labour markets aimed at enhancing competition pressures and productivity. Some of these reforms have been successfully implemented; others met strong political opposition and were aborted or postponed. This chapter draws on recent OECD empirical analysis that looked at past structural reform experience in
member countries and sheds some light on the factors driving the political feasibility of reforms. It discusses how reform-minded governments can facilitate the implementation of the desired changes in policies and institutions through a careful design of the reform process.

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