Small and medium-sized enterprises refers to firms of up to 250 workers each, but did you know that these so-called SMEs make up some 90% of employment in the OECD area? 

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While today Japan is one of the world’s largest and most advanced economies, a member of the G7 and the most developed country in Asia, in 1964 the picture was quite different.

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Some 18% of the total OECD arable and permanent cropland area was sown with transgenic crops in the period including 2008 to 2010.

Dementia is a devastating condition for which there is no cure available. Care is costly, financially and emotionally. The cost for health systems is likely to rise in ageing societies. The condition damages the brain, and leads to a decline in a person’s functional and cognitive capabilities.

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People are by far the most important input when building quality education. So it is little surprise that teachers’ salaries represent the largest single cost item in the labour intensive education system. Salaries and working conditions play an important role in attracting, motivating and retaining skilled teachers. Teachers are the backbone of the education sector which is a crucial determinant of productivity and growth.

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Optimism has proved to be another major victim of the economic crisis, according to How’s Life? Indeed, people’s long-term expectations about their subjective well-being fi ve years from now have deteriorated almost everywhere in the OECD area. And most of them don’t expect things to get much better. 

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Case studies of specific products, particularly in the electronics industry, show that value creation along a global value chain tends to be unevenly distributed among activities. The highest value creation is found in upstream activities, such as the development of a new concept, research and development (R&D) and the manufacturing of key components. But it is also found in downstream activities, such as marketing, branding and customer service.

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Latin America’s future as a region of innovation will be far from secure if investment in research and development (R&D) continues at current low levels.

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Everyone needs to be sufficiently financially literate to take informed decisions for themselves and their families as to their savings, investments, pensions and more. But in many countries, women have lower financial knowledge than men, and are less confident in their financial knowledge and skills.

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People who have completed tertiary education can generally expect to earn more than those who don’t. But governments and societies benefit from these people’s investments as well.

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Job losses can prove costly for individuals, as well as to society. Financial distress, for example, can lead to health problems and crime. While policies like unemployment benefits, job-search assistance and skills training can help ease the personal impact of job loss, they can be expensive. Consequently, governments also turn to policies that protect employees from losing their jobs in the first place.

Patients in most OECD countries face long hospital waiting times, whether for primary care, out-patient specialist care or even emergency care. Tax payers rightly expect better service, and hospital waiting times are understandably a contentious political issue.

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Will this be Asia’s century? When it comes to growth and social progress, there have been heady leaps forward, with every prospect of continued dynamism over the next five years. But according to the Southeast Asian Economic Outlook 2013, if there is a blot on the map, it is in tackling poverty and the wide development gaps that bedevil the continent.

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Cities that want healthier populations should get them moving. In the US, where urban sprawl and personal motorised vehicle are prevalent, walking makes up only 8.6% of all trips, by far the lowest proportion in our chart.

Headline economic data

GDP +0.6% Q3 2013 (+0.6% Q2 2013)
Leading indicators +0.6% Nov 2013, y/y (+0.4% Oct 2013)
Inflation +1.6% Dec 2013 (+1.5% Nov) annual
Unemployment 7.8% Nov 2013 (7.9% Oct 2013)

Data for OECD area. Latest update: 5 Feb 2014

Databank - Latest quarterly data by country

For details on these and other numbers, click titles or visit www.oecd.org/statistics

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Making strides in scientific innovation is no longer an initiative of just a few select high-income countries. Research and innovation have become increasingly democratised; indeed, Asia’s emerging economies are now gaining prominence as world hubs of scientific research. While the United States remains at the top in terms of the volume of scientific publications produced and collaborations made, these countries are eager to develop their own innovation capabilities, and strengthen their research and academic partnerships.

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More students are looking beyond their borders to give their education a competitive edge. 

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The fallout from uncertainty that continues to undermine the global economy is reflected in international investment, which is falling once again, following two years of steady gains.

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Start-up rates in OECD countries are slowly edging back to their pre-crisis levels, but not all countries have seen significant acceleration in new businesses, according to Entrepreneurship at a Glance 2012

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For the first time in decades, health spending has not increased in real terms on average across OECD countries. According to figures published in the latest OECD health data 2012, the growth in health spending in 2010 slowed or turned negative in almost all OECD countries. 

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If you are reading this in a big city, the air you are breathing may be doing you harm. Though over 50% of the world’s population now live in urban areas, only 2% of the global urban population lives with acceptable concentrations of particulate matter, or PM, which can cause breathing and respiratory diseases, cancer and premature death. 

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Aid from major donors in the OECD area to developing countries fell by nearly 3% in 2011, ending a long trend of annual increases: until 2011, aid had been increasing for more than a decade, and by 63% between 2000 and 2010, the year it reached its peak.

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Poverty rates are usually a measure of personal income. But how can public services affect relative poverty, that is, when the monetary value of public services, known as “extended income” is brought into the equation? 

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Inequality is usually thought of in terms of income or wealth, but it might make even more sense to think of it in terms of how satisfied people are with their lives. A recent study, How’s Life?, attempts to shed light on people’s experience and the variation in life satisfaction within countries. 

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As governments around the world attempt to bring deficits under control and debt to manageable levels, just where to find the savings is a tricky question. Governments face a delicate balancing act as they try to achieve real fiscal discipline without mortally wounding public services, often in precarious political circumstances. 

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Emerging economies have made good progress on health coverage recently, but the share of out-of-pocket payments in total health expenditure remains significantly higher than in most advanced countries.

The Fukushima tragedy in Japan in March 2011 has unsettled the nuclear energy outlook. Nuclear power started out almost 60 years ago with the Obninsk plant near Moscow in 1954, but after strong growth in the 1960s and 1970s, the industry declined sharply in the 1980s due to costs, delays and safety concerns after the Three Mile Island accident in the US in 1979, and the Chernobyl accident in Ukraine in 1986.

Despite two decades of outsourcing and globalisation, the US remains the world’s largest manufacturer in 2009. However, its share of world value-added in manufacturing declined from around 22.7% of the total in 1990 to less than 20% in 2009. China’s share rose from a minute 2.7% to 17.5% over the same period, taking over Japan, hitherto the world’s second largest manufacture, whose share dropped from 17.7% to 11.4% over the two decades.

Whether or not you believe they have been reformed enough, few institutions have received as much attention during the current economic crisis as banks.

But how much money do they really control and how can their behaviour affect our economies so much?

Economic data

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