Structure and indicators

In order to accurately interpret the data included in Government at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean 2024, readers need to be familiar with the following methodological considerations that cut across a number of indicators. Starting with Chapter 2, individual indicators are presented in a standard format on two pages. The first page contains text that explains the relevance of the topic and highlights some of the major differences observed across LAC countries and, where possible, compares them to OECD countries. This is followed by a “Methodology and definitions” section, which describes the data sources and provides important information necessary to interpret the data. Closing the first page is a “Further reading” section, which lists useful background literature providing context to the data displayed. The second page showcases the data. Figures show current levels and, where possible, trends over time.

Data on public finances are based on the definition of the sector “general government” found in the System of National Accounts (SNA). Accordingly, general government comprises ministries/departments, agencies, offices and some non-profit institutions at the central, state and local level, as well as social security funds. Data on revenues and expenditures are presented both for central and sub-central (state and local) levels of government and (where applicable) for social security funds. Data on employment also refer to general government, although data on employment by gender refer to the public sector, which covers both general government as well as publicly owned resident enterprises and companies. Finally, data on public management practices and processes refer to those practices and processes in the central level of government only unless specified differently.

The data on public finances and economics, based on the IMF's Government Finance Statistics Manual (GFSM) and IMF’s World Economic Outlook (IMF WEO), were extracted from the database on 3 November 2023. Moreover, data for tax revenues, which are also part of the public finance data, were extracted from the OECD Revenue Statistics in Latin America and the Caribbean database on 3 November 2023. Finally, for the OECD averages data were based on the System of National Accounts (SNA) and were extracted from the Government at a Glance online database representing the last available update: 5 January 2024. In analogy, data for the OECD average for tax revenues were extracted from the OECD Revenue Statistics database on 5 January 2024.

The data on public employment were extracted from the ILOSTAT (database) on 17 February 2023.

Government at a Glance Latin America and the Caribbean 2024 includes data for 25 LAC countries on average based on available information.

In figures, the OECD and LAC average is presented as unweighted, arithmetic mean or weighted average of the countries for which data are available. Countries for whom data are not available are listed in the figure’s notes.

If a figure depicts information for one or more years, the average includes all countries with available data. For instance, a LAC average for 2022 published in this edition includes all current LAC countries with available information for that year. For the OECD average, averages have been updated considering the latest available data (unless specified otherwise).

In the case of Government Finance Statistics Manual and National Accounts data, averages refer to the weighted average, unless otherwise indicated.

LAC and OECD totals are most commonly found in tables and represent the sum of data in the corresponding column for the LAC or OECD countries for which data are available. In the case of LAC countries, those not included in the tables are countries without available data. For OECD member countries, the totals are those published in Government at a Glance 2023 and/or in the Government at a Glance online data set, unless otherwise specified. In the notes, LAC and/or OECD countries for whom data are not available are listed.

For several indicators, additional tables and figures presenting country-specific data or annexes with complementary information on the indicator methodology can be found online. When available, these are noted in the “Methodology and definitions” section of the indicator. Government at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean 2024 also offers access to StatLinks, a service that allows readers to download the featured data’s corresponding Excel files. StatLinks are found at the bottom right-hand corner of the tables or figures and can be typed into a web browser or, in an electronic version of the publication, clicked on directly.

In addition, the following supplementary materials are available online at: www.oecd.org/gov/govataglance.htm:

  • The Government at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean portal includes a selection of indicators and figures.

  • Country fact sheets that present key data by country compared with the LAC and OECD averages for LAC countries which have completed at least 4 surveys of those featured in the country factsheets.

  • The Government at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean statistical database, which includes data for a selection of quantitative indicators and the publication of qualitative data for the surveys collected by the Public Governance Directorate of the OECD via OECD.Explorer.

Some indicators (e.g. expenditures, revenues and government debt) are shown on a per capita (i.e. per person) basis. The underlying population estimates are based on the notion of residency. They include persons who are resident in a country for one year or more, regardless of their citizenship, and also include foreign diplomatic personnel and defence personnel together with their families, students studying and patients seeking treatment abroad, even if they stay abroad for more than one year. The one-year rule means that usual residents who live abroad for less than one year are included in the population, while foreign visitors (for example, tourists) who are in the country for less than one year are excluded. An important point to note in this context is that individuals may feature as employees of one country (contributing to the gross domestic product [GDP] of that country via production), but residents of another (with their wages and salaries reflected in the gross national income of their resident country).

Purchasing power parities (PPPs) are the rates of currency conversion that equalise the purchasing power of different countries by eliminating differences in price levels between countries. When converted by means of PPPs, expenditures across countries are in effect expressed at the same set of prices, meaning that an equivalent bundle of goods and services will have the same cost in both countries, enabling comparisons across countries that reflect only the differences in the volume of goods and services purchased.

The PPP index used for LAC countries is the same that used by the IMF World Economic Outlook. The International Comparisons Program is a global statistical initiative that produces internationally comparable PPP estimates. The PPP exchange rate estimates, maintained and published by the World Bank, the OECD and other international organisations, are used by the WEO to calculate its own PPP weight time series.

This publication includes descriptive composite indices in narrowly defined areas related to regulatory governance, budgeting practices, open government data and human resources management. These composite indices are a practical way of summarising discrete, qualitative information. The composites presented in this publication were created in accordance with the steps identified in the Handbook on Constructing Composite Indicators (Nardo et al., 2008[1]).

Details about the methodology used to construct the composite indicators on regulatory governance, green budgeting, gender budgeting, open government data and strategic human resources management are available in Annexes A to E. While the composite indicators were developed in co-operation with OECD countries and are based on theory and/or best practices, the variables included in the indexes and their relative weights are based on expert judgments and, as a result, may change over time.

The focus Chapter of this edition on the topic of Strengthening participation, public management and integrity to build trust and support the green transition in Latin America and the Caribbean argues that governments must ensure that the green transition serves as an opportunity to address structural inequalities and foster sustainability. The focus Chapter argues that a combination of substantial financial resources, clear policy frameworks, and international cooperation is needed for a just green transition in LAC. Three specific areas for government action are identified, including to: i) enhancing inclusive and participatory processes and policies to overcome representation gaps and build trust; ii) reinforcing key competences in public institutions to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth; and iii) protecting the public interest against corruption, the erosion of public integrity, and undue influence.

In turn, the 2024 edition of Government at a Glance: Latin America and the Caribbean presents a new structure around three broad categories: 1) Trust and satisfaction with public services; 2) Achieving results with good governance practices 3) What resources public institutions use and how are they managed. Figure 1 presents the conceptual framework for Government at a Glance.

This section includes evidence on public governance outcomes (i.e. trust in public institutions and satisfaction with public services) as perceived by people as well as some of the drivers leading to high or low levels for each of these indicators. The satisfaction with public services section is based on the serving citizens framework that encompasses indicators on public perception on the quality of healthcare, education, and justice systems (Chapter 2).

In order to design and implement public policies and deliver public services, public institutions work through public governance processes and practices undertaken by governments to deliver to people. These address the means used by public administrations to fulfil their duties and obtain their goals. In consequence, they are often essential for ensuring the rule of law, accountability, fairness, advance in the green transition and ensure openness of government actions. Public sector reforms often target these processes; as such, they capture the public’s attention. The data included in this section are generated by the different Public Governance communities and are to a large extent the specificity of Government at a Glance. This edition includes chapters on the governance of the policy cycle (Chapter 3), open government (Chapter 4), budgeting practices (Chapter 5), regulatory governance (Chapter 6), managing public procurement (Chapter 7) infrastructure planning and delivery (Chapter 8) and digital government and open government data (Chapter 9).

This section of the publication refers to the resources used by governments to deliver as well as how they are mixed; these resources correspond to labour and capital. The chapters that describe inputs and public management practices include public revenues (Chapter 10), public spending (Chapter 11) and public employment (Chapter 12) as well as managing human resources (Chapter 13).

References

[1] Nardo, M. et al. (2008), Handbook on Constructing Composite Indicators: Methodology and User Guide, OECD, Paris, https://www.oecd.org/sdd/42495745.pdf.

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