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OECD Economic Surveys: France 2007

image of OECD Economic Surveys: France 2007

With short-term prospects somewhat brighter, and budgetary prospects improved, the OECD Economic Survey of France 2007 looks at some long-term challenges: the performance of policies for education and those for poverty and social exclusion is satisfactory or better in many areas, but cost-effectiveness can be improved and more focus on employment is needed. Policy has begun to prepare for the economic impact of population ageing, but there is no room to relax in seeking to contain fiscal costs and to increase employment among older workers.

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Meeting the challenges of decentralisation

Despite France’s previously well-deserved reputation as a highly centralised state, a significant number of responsibilities have been devolved to regional and local government over the past two decades. The process has not been easy. The extremely large number of very small municipalities makes economies of scale in the implementation of policies hard to realise, and measures to overcome this have been at best only partially successful. Competence is often shared between levels of government, obscuring accountability, and the central government has often retained an arguably unnecessary degree of prerogatives. Reorganising the system to avoid overlapping responsibilities and improving transparency and accountability in local government finance provide some difficult challenges.

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