The Political Economy of Reform

Lessons from Pensions, Product Markets and Labour Markets in Ten OECD Countries

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This report examines why some policy reforms get implemented and others languish by examining 20 structural reform efforts in 10 OECD countries over the past two decades. The case studies cover a wide variety of reform attempts in three key areas: pensions, labour- and product-market regulation. Key factors in the political, economic and reform-specific arenas are identified as helping or hindering reform, and these findings are cross-checked using a relatively simple set of Spearman rank correlations. The report’s two-pronged analytical approach – quantitative and qualitative – results in unique insights for policy makers designing, adopting and implementing structural policy reforms.

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Water reform, 1994-2004

Australia undertook a major reform of water resource policies with the 1994 Water Reform Framework, which aimed to establish a market-based system by 2005. This ambitious agenda put Australia at the leading edge of water management internationally. However, progress in implementing water reform over the ensuing decade was slow and uneven and fell far short of the goals of the original reform programme. As a result, a new water reform initiative was launched in 2004 in an effort to reinvigorate the reform process.

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