OECD Economics Department Working Papers

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Working papers from the Economics Department of the OECD that cover the full range of the Department’s work including the economic situation, policy analysis and projections; fiscal policy, public expenditure and taxation; and structural issues including ageing, growth and productivity, migration, environment, human capital, housing, trade and investment, labour markets, regulatory reform, competition, health, and other issues.

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Advancing Structural Reforms in OECD Countries

Lessons from Twenty Case Studies You or your institution have access to this content

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William Tompson, Thai-Thanh Dang
19 Apr 2010
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This paper presents in summary form the findings that emerge from a study of 20 structural reform episodes in 10 OECD countries. The study’s principal messages may be summarised as follows. First, it pays to have an electoral mandate for reform. Secondly, major reforms should be accompanied by consistent co-ordinated efforts to persuade voters and stakeholders of the need for reform and, in particular, to communicate the costs of non-reform. This communications challenge points to the need for policy design to be underpinned by solid research and analysis, which serves both to improve the quality of policy and to enhance prospects for reform adoption. Partly for these reasons, many of the least successful reform attempts were undertaken in haste, often in response to immediate pressures. The cohesion of the government is also critical: if the government is not united around the policy, it will send out mixed messages, and opponents will exploit its divisions. Finally, while much of the political economy literature focuses on agency and the interplay of interests, the condition of the policy regime to be reformed also matters. This paper relates to The Political Economy of Reform: Lessons from Pensions, Product Markets and Labour Markets in Ten OECD Countries, OECD, Paris, 2009, www.oecd.org/document/18/0,3343,en_2649_33733_43756114_1_1_1_1,00.html
political economy, labour market, pensions, reforms, product markets, regulation
JEL Classification:
  • D7: Microeconomics / Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
  • H55: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies / Social Security and Public Pensions
  • J4: Labor and Demographic Economics / Particular Labor Markets
  • J5: Labor and Demographic Economics / Labor–Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining
  • N4: Economic History / Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
  • P16: Economic Systems / Capitalist Systems / Political Economy
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