2018 OECD Economic Surveys: Germany 2018

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Germany has been enjoying strong economic performance. Exports have benefited from an innovative manufacturing sector. Record-low unemployment has underpinned private household demand. On aggregate, the population enjoys a high standard of living. The share of population in relative income poverty is lower than in most OECD countries. The main concern for policy makers is to make sure strong social and economic outcomes are sustained in the future and that efforts are stepped up to reduce inequality of market incomes and poverty risk. New technologies must be exploited more extensively, with benefits for the whole society, as well as for strong growth consistent with the low-carbon transition. Accelerated technological change requires workers to be ready to adapt throughout their life time. Better use of workers’ skills, especially among women, can also boost productivity. Enhancing education opportunities for people with weak socio-economic background brings better access to economic opportunities to all.


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Improving skills and their use

Cognitive skills, such as reading and numeric skills, are key determinants of wages, employment and long-term economic growth. Good cognitive skills also reduce poverty risk and improve non-material wellbeing, such as health and social cohesion. Non-cognitive skills, such as skills to use information and communication technology as well as managerial skills, also help workers adapt to new technologies and globalisation. In Germany cognitive skills among adults are above OECD average, but weaker than in leading economies, especially among individuals with low and middle qualifications. Much progress has been made to improve learning outcomes of youth with disadvantaged socio-economic background. Nonetheless, high-quality childcare, early childhood and full-day primary education still need to expand. The vocational education system is very successful in integrating young people well in the labour market. Strengthening general education within the successful vocational education and training system could help ensure the capacity of graduates to adapt to technological change at higher age in the future. Participation in life-long learning could be encouraged by better addressing individual training needs. This could improve prospects for adults without professional qualifications. Women’s skills are used less well than men’s, calling for policies to address gender imbalances in the labour market.

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