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2018 OECD Economic Surveys: Lithuania 2018

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Since renewed independence in 1991 and transition from a centrally planned to a market economy, Lithuania has substantially raised well-being of its citizens. Thanks to a market-friendly environment the country grew faster than most OECD countries over the past ten years. The financial system is resilient, and fiscal positions stabilised after a long period of deficits and rising debt. Yet productivity has remained subdued due to stringent labour market regulations, informality and skills mismatch. Wage and income inequality are high, fuelling emigration. The population is ageing fast and declining, particularly because of emigration, putting pressure on the pension system. A wide-reaching labour market, unemployment benefits and pension reform entitled “new social model” implemented in 2017 is expected to reinvigorate inclusive growth, strengthen the social safety net and underpin the sustainability of public finances. However, catch-up and more inclusive growth will require raising productivity that still remains well below the OECD average, and has slowed down recently. And rapid ageing and high emigration shrink the labour force by 1% every year, requiring a comprehensive approach to address the economic consequences.

SPECIAL FEATURES: PRODUCTIVITY AND INCLUSIVENESS; AGEING TOGETHER

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Boosting productivity and inclusiveness

Productivity growth has slowed in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, holding back income convergence and making it harder to reduce further the relatively high inequality and poverty. A comprehensive approach is required to address productivity and inclusiveness challenges, building on their synergies. The government has taken measures to this end, with the New Social Model at the core, but efforts need to continue. Reforms should focus on additional improvements in the business environment by easing further regulations on the employment of non-EU workers and reducing informality. Initiatives to improve the governance of state-owned enterprises are welcome and need to continue. Improving access to finance and ensuring effective bankruptcy procedures are key to boosting firm dynamism, as are measures to encourage business-research sector collaboration on innovation. Addressing large skills mismatch is also a priority. Increasing the market-relevance of the education system is important. More and better-quality jobs in the formal sector, especially for the low-skilled, are key to inclusiveness and well-being, while more effective support and active labour market programmes would help combating poverty.

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