The activities of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 2008-2009
| Doc. 12024
| 22 September 2009
- (Former) Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee
- Rapporteur :
- Mr Luca VOLONTÈ,
- See Doc. 11985, report of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development. 2009 - Fourth part-session
1 The rapporteur congratulates
Ms Anna Lilliehöök on her excellent report on the activities of
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
in 2008-2009. He notes and endorses the invitation to the OECD,
in coordination with the other international economic and financial
institutions concerned, to support member states in their actions
to counter the effects of the current recession and to offer guidance
in designing structural reforms. These should aim at restoring confidence
and at strengthening the social, economic and financial fabric of
1 Relevance of
OECD data and analyses for the committee’s work
The rapporteur would like to
take this opportunity to recall that the Social, Health and Family
Affairs Committee has made extensive use of OECD data and analyses
for its debates and reports. The following are a few examples of
the main topics of interest to this Committee during the past year:
2.1 OECD employment and labour market
analyses, as well as employment statistics, indicators and estimates
derived from the European and national labour force surveys, served
as a basis of reflection for the committee’s work on promoting active
ageing and capitalising on older people’s working potential.
2.2 OECD family and child well-being statistics fed the Committee’s
work on family cohesion as a development factor in times of crisis,
in particular the data and analyses on reconciling work and family life.
2.3 The OECD work on health policy, most notably the measurement
of the performance of health care systems in member countries, as
well as recent health statistics and indicators concerning investments
in disease prevention and health promotion, allowed a thorough discussion
on health care prevention policies in the Council of Europe member
2.4 The OECD development co-operation report offered relevant
statistics and analyses on the latest trends in international aid,
which were taken into consideration for the committee’s work in
the framework of the 15th anniversary of the International Conference
on Population and Development Programme of Action, which resulted
in a call for more funding for this programme.
2 Tackling poverty
and social exclusion: reconsidering the role of the family
3 The Social, Health and Family
Affairs Committee met in London on 12 June 2009 and discussed the impact
of the global crisis on families and the environment with a number
of experts. With this contribution, the rapporteur would like to
offer some food for thought on behalf of the Committee. He also
wishes to encourage the OECD to reflect further as to the nature
and operation of the today’s market economy and to develop forward-looking
approaches and responses to the current crisis.
4 High unemployment, exclusion and poverty tear at the fabric
of society and unravel economies. Finding ways to boost employment
and improve social welfare by reforming labour markets, tackling
poverty and social exclusion, adjusting social systems to ageing
societies and ensuring that children are nurtured by their families should
remain a key priority for OECD countries.
5 The rapporteur welcomes the restated OECD Jobs Strategy, which
provides a framework for assessing policy responses to support those
most affected by the economic downturn and calls in particular for
adequate income support to those who are at risk of falling into
poverty, while ensuring that job-seeking is effective.
6 Attention should remain focused on vulnerable groups particularly
affected by the recession: youth, immigrants, low-skilled and older
workers and those with temporary contracts, who may become trapped
into long-term unemployment, as shown by the 2008 OECD report “Growing
unequal? – Income distribution and poverty in OECD countries”.
7 The rapporteur notes with concern that the most substantial
shift in poverty trends over the past two decades has been between
age groups: the risk of poverty for older people has fallen, while
poverty among young adults and families with children has risen.
Poverty rates for children and young adults are now around 25% higher
than the population average, whereas they were below or close to
that average 20 years ago. Single-parent households are three times
more at risk of poverty than average households.
8 The situation of children in a crisis-stricken economy is
of special concern to this committee. OECD findings show that children
living in countries where there is large gap between rich and poor
are less likely to improve on the education and income attainments
of their parents than children living in countries with low income
9 In the rapporteur’s views, both academics and policymakers
should pay special attention to the family, including low-income
families and particularly those already in debt, one-parent families,
large families and those with few educational qualifications, who
will find it difficult to compete in a crowded job market.
10 The family should be considered as one of the essential resources
that can help the recovery of the economic system. In times of social
upheaval and economic crisis governments too often expect families
alone to act as “social shock-absorbers” through internal solidarity
between their components. This is impossible for families alone
– they must be recognised for their true worth and for the function
that they perform.
11 Policymakers must remain alert to the impact of social policies
in respect of the family, working for phased co-ordination of their
policies so that they may become “family-friendly” in areas such
as labour market participation, fair tax conditions for families,
prevention of juvenile poverty, balancing of time spent in working and
private life for parents, education and professional training and
housing for young couples.
12 The rapporteur shares the views
of some commentators who believe that we have indeed globalised
the economies of nations, but our policies remain resolutely national.
There is a mismatch between interconnected economies that are producing
global problems and political process that cannot contribute to
global solutions. Without better international coordination, there
will be more crises, social unrest and the risk of a retreat from globalisation
toward the safety and slow growth of protected national economies.
13 However, recent OECD analyses stressed that regardless of
whether the rising inequality is due to globalisation or to other
reasons, good government policy can make a difference. The current
crisis provides an opportunity to address long-term problems, as
people are willing to reconsider established conventions. This is
why the present crisis also makes it important to face the neglected
long-term issues like equality of opportunities, social cohesion,
quality of public services and health care systems, as well as protection
of the environment.
14 As recently pointed out by the World Heath Organisation, the
financial crisis has shown the downside of global inter-dependence.
The response must demonstrate the opposite: the benefits of global
co-operation. There are positive signs: several countries have made
public their commitments to maintain levels of social and health
sector spending. Most donors have promised to keep to their commitments
for aid spending. Many countries have decided to forge ahead, despite
the crisis, with reforms that will make their social and health systems
fit for purpose as they face major demographic and social changes.
Amendment N° 1
After paragraph 10 of the draft resolution, insert a new paragraph:
Social and health policy
enlarged Assembly welcomes the restated OECD Jobs Strategy, a tool
of current relevance which provides a framework for assessing policy
responses to support those most affected by the economic downturn.
Attention should remain focused on vulnerable groups particularly
affected by the crisis: youth, immigrants, low-skilled and older
workers, and those with temporary contracts, who may become trapped
into long-term unemployment. In addition, both academics and policymakers
should pay special attention to the family and propose concrete
support measures when formulating social cohesion strategies and
planning a response to the current crisis.”
* * *
Committee on Economic Affairs and Development
Committee for contribution:
Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee
Reference to committee: standing mandate
by the committee on 14 September 2009
Secretariat to the committee:
Mr Géza Mezei, Mrs Maren Lambrecht, Mrs Silvia Arzilli