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OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2002

image of OECD Economic Surveys: United States 2002

This 2002 edition of OECD's periodic survey of the US economy examines recent economic developments, policies and prospects. The special chapter focuses on health system reform and an annex examines September 11 impact on financial markets.

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Structural Policy Developments

While the longest expansion ever recorded is now history, the improvements in many areas of economic performance that accompanied it remain intact. The tight labour market together with robust gains in productivity led to markedly better work prospects for less-skilled workers and other groups weakly attached to the labour market, most notably single mothers. The strong economy reinforced economic policies to encourage work – such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and fundamental changes in welfare programmes in the mid-1990s – to generate improvements in work participation and income and falling poverty rates. This contrasts with the worsening in wellbeing experienced by disadvantaged groups in the 1980s expansion. Even social conditions often viewed as separate from macroeconomic performance, especially crime, have improved significantly over the past decade, and the buoyant economy and good policy – economic and noneconomic – have played important roles. Even so, there are aspects of the labour market, education and in areas of international contention where improvements should be sought.

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