Executive summary

The OECD’s 2020 Risks that Matter (RTM) survey takes the pulse of economic health and social security in 25 OECD countries. Carried out in the midst of the pandemic, RTM asks about people’s risk perceptions, explores how satisfied they are with their government’s social protection, and asks whether – and how – people think public policies in OECD countries should better ensure their social and economic security. These findings offer crucial insights for policy makers trying to improve social protection systems as countries recover from the pandemic.

  • Looking ahead to 2022, two-thirds of respondents to the 2020 Risks that Matter (RTM) survey say that they are somewhat or very concerned about their household’s finances and overall social and economic well-being. When looking only at respondents whose household reported a job loss during the pandemic, the share that is concerned about economic well-being rises to 80.6%, on average across countries. Women tend to be more worried about household finances than men.

  • The concerns reflect deep levels of economic insecurity. Nearly half (44.2%) of households, cross-nationally, experienced some form of job disruption during the pandemic, and 11.8% of respondents report that either they or a household member lost a job outright or lost their own business since the start of the crisis. In turn, about one-third of respondents have faced financial difficulties such as having trouble paying a bill or needing to borrow money.

  • In the short run, the top perceived risks are falling ill and making ends meet. The top perceived risks in the long run – that is, beyond the next decade – are falling ill, financial security in old age, and securing good-quality and affordable long-term care (both for the respondent and for elderly family members). More than half of all respondents identify these as issues they are concerned or very concerned about.

  • Despite the tremendous expansion of social spending in OECD countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, people are sceptical that their government would help them get through financial troubles. Nearly six out of ten respondents say that they have little or no confidence that cash benefits and services provided by their government would sufficiently support them if they were to experience financial difficulties. Most people instead count on personal networks of family and friends.

  • Governments are perceived as more effective in some policy areas than others. On average across countries, people are most satisfied with public services around education, health care, and public safety.

  • People in OECD countries feel disconnected from programme design and benefit distribution. Only one in five respondents, cross-nationally, feel that their government incorporates their views. And only about one-quarter of respondents say that they get their fair share of benefits relative to the taxes and social contributions they pay.

  • Despite these concerns, support for a government safety net remains high throughout the OECD. On average, more than two-thirds (67.7%) of all respondents say they think government should be doing more to ensure their economic and social security.

  • When considering the taxes they might have to pay and the benefits they might receive, seven out of ten respondents across countries say that they would support greater spending on public health services – the most popular issue area. Pensions and long-term care are the other areas where people are most willing to invest more in taxes.

Disclaimers

This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.

This document, as well as any data and map included herein, are without prejudice to the status of or sovereignty over any territory, to the delimitation of international frontiers and boundaries and to the name of any territory, city or area.

The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

Note by Turkey
The information in this document with reference to “Cyprus” relates to the southern part of the Island. There is no single authority representing both Turkish and Greek Cypriot people on the Island. Turkey recognises the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Until a lasting and equitable solution is found within the context of the United Nations, Turkey shall preserve its position concerning the “Cyprus issue”.

Note by all the European Union Member States of the OECD and the European Union
The Republic of Cyprus is recognised by all members of the United Nations with the exception of Turkey. The information in this document relates to the area under the effective control of the Government of the Republic of Cyprus.

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