Table of Contents

  • In this post-crisis period, governments in OECD countries continue to play an active role in the economy while undertaking major reforms to increase value for money and improve the access and quality of public services. The set of indicators presented in Government at a Glance 2015 provides countries with solid evidence to support the design and implementation of public sector reforms and good practices. It presents indicators on the entire production chain of government, including resources (financial and human), practices and procedures and key trends in performance and results. The opening chapter offers some general policy insights emerging from the data presented in the publication. This edition focuses on the role of governments in fostering inclusive growth and a more inclusive society.

  • This fourth edition of Government at a Glace offers a comprehensive panorama of the capacities and performance of government in OECD countries and key partners at a moment when many are grappling with huge economic challenges and painful trade-offs. Ambitious goals contrast with the reality of a recovery that is still fragile in many places. Reforms and other essential programmes must proceed in a context of limited public investment. At the same time, societies have to urgently confront long-term challenges, including sustainability and climate change. Rising inequality is also excluding large segments of society from the benefits of growth and is constraining the return to full economic potential. The fact that trust in public institutions is strained does not make the task easier.

  • The recovery is under way and economic growth is slowly starting to pick up in the OECD area. Fiscal consolidation is proceeding, although unemployment remains high, while productivity growth has been low. Inequalities, in the distribution of income and other outcomes that matter for people’s well-being, are also widening. Governments must address these challenges to deliver stronger, more inclusive growth in the years to come; a multidimensional approach to public policy making is needed.

  • In order to accurately interpret the data included in Government at a Glance 2015, readers need to be familiar with the following methodological considerations that cut across a number of indicators. The standard format for the presentation of indicators is on two pages. The first page contains text that explains the relevance of the topic and highlights some of the major differences observed across OECD countries. It is followed by a Methodology and definitions section, which describes the data sources and provides important information necessary to interpret the data. Closing the first page is the Further reading section, which lists useful background literature providing context to the data displayed. The second page showcases the data. These figures show current levels and, where possible, trends over time. A glossary of the main definitions of the publication can be found in the final chapter of the book.

  • The main objective of the Government at a Glance series is to provide reliable, internationally comparative data on government activities and their results in OECD countries and beyond. In turn, these data can be used by countries to benchmark their governments’ performance, to track their own and international developments over time and to provide evidence to their public policy making.

  • Inclusive growth is crucial not only for a fairer society but also for a stronger economy. Income gaps between rich and the poor have widened, and these inequalities undermine economic growth and strain the relationship between government and citizens. Countries are searching for new ways to improve living standards, while sharing the benefits of growth more evenly across all groups in society. In responding to the challenge of inclusive growth, the public sector has an important role to play, with respect to the inclusiveness of the public sector itself, the inclusiveness of policy-making processes, and the inclusiveness of the outcomes that governments seek to promote.