Social policies and data

Monitoring the effects of financial crisis on vulnerable groups of society: OECD's Roundtable Discussion Forum


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  • September 2009: Making the most of income-support policies in a downturn
    The current downturn is severely testing the adequacy of unemployment benefit systems as the primary safety net for job-losers and their families. This section of chapter 1 of OECD Employment Outlook 2009 considers the scope and generosity of existing income-support policies and asks whether, and how, support measures should be adapted to deal with the challenges occasioned by a severe recession.


Wednesday morning 18 March 2009 - OECD Conference Centre


Round table summary  -  Roundtable agenda  
Additional information related to the crisis


This OECD event was a collaborative effort between the Social Policy Division and the Statistics and Data Directorate. It is part of the initiatives that the OECD is undertaking to assess the implications of the financial crisis and the ongoing economic recession on the statistical and analytical work that we undertake, and in particular to assess the consequences of the crisis on the well-being of our fellow citizens. While the OECD regularly collects information on income distribution and poverty in its member countries, this information is infrequently updated (partly reflecting the low periodicity of the surveys conducted in member countries), leading to demands for alternative information.


Summary / Key messages

1.  Strengthen existing data sources, and avoid compromising reliability for quicker delivery of data
Some specific proposals stand out in this respect, in particular that of including in existing surveys specific questions on household income (in ongoing Labour Force Surveys) and on financial conditions and material deprivation (in consumer sentiment surveys). Another proposal was that of redesigning household income surveys so as to allow processing of the data six months after the completion of the fieldwork.

2.  Leverage a range of other sources to provide a more timely account of the social impacts of the crises
In particular, information from the administrative data (e.g. on programme beneficiaries) should be exploited: while access to these sources remains an issue, and they may need some further development before they can be used, a lot can be learned from practices in other countries.  Data from other sources – such as information collected by providers of social services, and by financial institutions – could also be exploited. Mobilising these various sources is important also to avoid unsubstantiated claims on the social impacts of the crises by the media.

3.  Explore the potential of microsimulation models to assess the impact of the crises on households
Several participants noted the role of microsimulation models, available at both the international (e.g. EUROMOD, at the EU level) and national level, to build scenarios describing the potential impact of a number of macro-economic shocks (e.g. higher unemployment, lower pension assets) on people with different characteristics and on welfare programmes. The OECD could play a coordination role in bringing together microsimulation experts and encouraging the production of consistent scenarios.

Click here for a full summary of the Roundtable.


Roundtable Agenda


Opening remarks by Enrico Giovannini, Chief Statistician, OECD


Presentation of the Background paper  --  PPT
by Brian Nolan, University College Dublin, Ireland




Chairperson: Enrico Giovannini, Chief Statistician, OECD

Each panellist was requested to comment on the issues raised in the background paper and also provide their personal perspective on how to collect and develop new statistical data and indicators to monitor the effects of the financial crisis on vulnerable groups of society. Thus, the roundtable was an open and informal discussion around the following issues:

  • How suitable are the current set of indicators on poverty, inequality and social exclusion to monitor short-term developments in household conditions?
  • What additional data and indicators should National Statistical Offices be collecting to provide more up-to-date information on these aspects?
  • What role could international organisations, such as OECD, play in ensuring that good practices are identified and disseminated?




Intervention of Antonia Carparelli, European Commission


List of participants

If you want to know more about the conference or the Roundtable event, please contact Mr. Asghar Zaidi (Tel: 33 (0) 1 45 24 17 38; email:


Additional information related to the crisis:

  • Data: Latest Monthly Harmonised Unemployment Levels and Rates - Source: OECD Main Economic Indicators (updated continuously)
  • News: Massive rise in unemployment needs fast, decisive response - “Governments need to take quick and decisive action to avoid the financial crisis becoming a fully-blown social crisis with scarring effects on vulnerable workers and low income households” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría told G8 Labour and Employment Ministers in Rome on 30 March 2009
  • FAQImpact of crisis on employment: Which groups of people are most likely to be affected? Which industry sectors will be hit? What can governments do to help the rising number of unemployed?
  • Other seminar: Employment and Inequality Outcomes: New Evidence, Links and Policy Responses in Brazil, China and India (8 April 2009) - Session Five on Policy responses in times of crisis


Non-OECD related initiatives:
(contact to ask to add a link to your initiative here)