Social view

Society at a Glance - OECD Social Indicators 2001

A common complaint heard at this time of the year is about the state of our education. Yet, spending on schools grew as fast as GDP in most OECD countries from 1990 to 1997, to an average of 6.1% of GDP. Nevertheless, while more than 60% of the working age population have completed at least upper secondary education, less than 10% of adults in Italy, Portugal and Turkey have a university diploma.

These are some of the facts to be gleaned from Society at a Glance, a new compilation of indicators on 45 issues of social concern, from literacy and employment to suicide and divorce. It looks at social developments in OECD countries and asks how policy can effectively address these trends.

More glimpses: Suicides have increased in OECD countries by more than 10% in the last 30 years. Divorce rates have tripled, from 14.3% in 1970 to an average of 41.2% in 1998. Drug use has also risen in most OECD countries, with some of the highest consumption of cannabis and amphetamines occurring in New Zealand, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Each indicator chosen for the book is backed up by explanation and analysis. This is useful, as it helps to understand national differences in social trends, as well as status indicators on areas like self-sufficiency, equity, health and social cohesion. It becomes clear, for instance, that addressing drug abuse means looking at related indicators, like potential years of life lost and suicide rates, as well as healthcare expenditure and crime aspects. The book runs into just over 100 pages, which shows that there is more to a glance than meets the eye.

©OECD Observer No 228, September 2001 




Economic data

GDP growth: -1.8% Q1 2020/Q4 2019
Consumer price inflation: 0.9% Apr 2020 annual
Trade (G20): -4.3% exp, -3.9% imp, Q1 2020/Q4 2019
Unemployment: 8.4% Apr 2020
Last update: 9 July 2020

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