OECD Economic Surveys: Norway

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1999-0383 (online)
1995-3321 (print)
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OECD’s periodic surveys of the Norwegian economy. Each edition surveys the major challenges faced by the country, evaluates the short-term outlook, and makes specific policy recommendations. Special chapters take a more detailed look at specific challenges. Extensive statistical information is included in charts and graphs.

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OECD Economic Surveys: Norway 2016

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18 Jan 2016
9789264249554 (EPUB) ; 9789264206328 (PDF) ;9789264206311(print)

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This 2016 OECD Economic Survey of Norway examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapters cover: Higher education; Agriculture and rural policy.

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  • Basic statistics of Norway

    This Survey is published on the responsibility of the Economic and Development Review Committee (EDRC) of the OECD, which is charged with the examination of the economic situation of member countries.The economic situation and policies of Norway were reviewed by the Committee on 25 November 2015. The draft report was then revised in the light of the discussions and given final approval as the agreed report of the whole Committee on 8 December 2015.The Secretariat’s draft report was prepared for the Committee by Philip Hemmings and Vassiliki Koutsogeorgopoulou under the supervision of Piritta Sorsa. Secretarial assistance was provided by Anthony Bolton and Mikel Inarritu with statistical assistance by Taejin Park.The previous Survey of Norway was issued in March 2014.

  • Abbreviations and acronyms
  • Executive summary

    Norway has very high material living standards and scores well on other aspects of well-being, thanks to a mix of natural resources wealth, good policy making and inclusive and egalitarian social values, including active efforts to break down barriers to women’s careers. However, the substantial oil-price falls since 2014 have been a reminder of Norway’s exposure to external risks and consequently the importance of a flexible and competitive mainland economy. Norway continues to experience strong property-price momentum, raising concerns for macroeconomic stability. Also, the long-standing fiscal rule risks being inappropriately expansionary.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    Norway’s economy has been transformed since the discovery of commercially viable offshore oil and gas fields in the late 1960s which helped the country to achieve a high level of GDP per capita (). Good macroeconomic management of the oil wealth via the sovereign wealth fund and the associated fiscal rule has helped achieve impressive standards of living across society. Also, inflows of labour from other European Economic Area (EEA) countries have supported activity and reduced the risk of overheating.

  • Progress in structural reform

    The objective of this annex is to review action taken since the previous Survey (March 2014) on the main recommendations from previous Surveys, which are not reviewed and assessed in the current Survey.

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    • Addressing the challenges in higher education

      Norway’s predominately public and tuition-fee free tertiary education system encourages participation and has high attainment rates. However, challenges in spending efficiency, study times, skills demand, inclusiveness and quality remain. Also, learning outcomes could improve further. Moreover, few Norwegian universities rank high in international comparisons on the basis of research-related and other indicators, and spending per student or GDP is relatively high. Many small institutions, aiming to meet regional needs, do not reach critical mass in staff and student numbers. Many students take considerable time to finish their studies despite financial incentives, and students from lower income groups have low tertiary participation and completion rates despite a strong focus on inclusiveness. Enrolments remain low in fields such as science and engineering, although they have increased in recent years, and supply shortages in some professional areas indicate room for improvement. Better incentives for both students and institutions to ensure timely completions, with a special emphasis on disadvantaged students and labour market needs, a structure that paves the way for adequately sized institutions, and effective governance are essential for higher quality education and research. Effective monitoring of the outcomes is also vital. The government’s comprehensive quality-enhancing agenda, with a focus on these fronts, is welcome.

    • Policy challenges for agriculture and rural areas

      Norwegian policy gives high priority to supporting rural communities, with support for agriculture receiving particular attention. It is broadly successful in terms of maintaining rural communities, and urban-rural gaps in a range of well-being indicators are comparatively narrow. However, the cost-efficiency and sustainability of the policy mechanisms are questionable. Agriculture and rural policy in Norway needs to focus more strongly on economic sustainability alongside social sustainability. Agricultural support remains overly concentrated on maintaining the status quo and has seen little reform compared with policies elsewhere in the OECD. In contrast, the fishing industry has reformed much further towards economic sustainability, aquaculture has seen considerable success and there is potential for more rural tourism. Supporting rural communities also requires attention to the quality of public services in rural areas, and this report draws particular attention to inefficiencies arising from small-scale municipalities, and supports efforts to encourage mergers towards larger units, paving the way for greater operational leeway for municipal government.

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