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Reader’s guide


In order to accurately interpret the data included in Government at a Glance: Western Balkans, readers need to be familiar with the following methodological considerations that cut across a number of indicators. The standard format for the presentation of indicators is a double page spread. The first page contains text that explains the relevance of the topic and highlights some of the major differences observed across six countries and economies of the Western Balkan region, namely Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, and, where possible, their data are benchmarked against, the OECD and the OECD-EU data. This is followed by a “Methodology and definitions” section, which describes the data sources and provides important information necessary for interpreting the data. Additional information regarding country data can be found in the specific figure notes. Closing the first page is the “Further reading” section, which lists useful background literature providing context for the data displayed. The second page showcases the data. The figures show current levels and, where possible, trends over time. A glossary of the main terms used in the publication can be found in the final chapter.

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Country coverage

Government at a Glance: Western Balkans includes data for six countries and economies of the Western Balkan region – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – and, for the purpose of this publication, the designation “Western Balkans” refers to these six. An invitation letter co-signed by the Director of the OECD Public Governance Directorate and the Director for Strategy and Turkey of the EC Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) was sent to each government in January 2019. With formal acceptation letters to participate from the governments, five OECD survey instruments were sent out in May 2019 to collect data on relevant public management practices, namely on

  • Centre of government

  • Budget practices and procedures

  • Strategic human resources management

  • Public procurement

  • Digital government.

All six Western Balkans have submitted their responses, and they are reflected accordingly in chapters 4-8. In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Public Administration Reform Coordinator’s Office (PARCO) coordinated the data collection exercise between the State level, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, and the Brcko District, and submitted one representative country response. The data for Bosnia and Herzegovina in chapters 4-8 reflects this consolidated country response unless specified otherwise.

Data on OECD countries were sourced from OECD data collection rounds from different years, which are specified in figure notes and/or sources.

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Data sources and features

Most of the data used in Government at a Glance: Western Balkans are collected from government officials by the OECD via specifically designed surveys. The deadline for submitting responses was 28 June 2019. As such, they represent either official government statistics or the country’s own assessment of current practices and procedures as of June 2019. To the extent possible, OECD data collection instruments use standardised definitions and common units of measure. However, bias can occur in that countries may interpret and answer questions differently and/or may not be entirely objective in their responses. In general, the direction of the bias is known, but not necessarily its extent. To try and minimise these biases, the OECD Secretariat has cleaned and verified the collected data by following up with governments when there were potential inconsistencies or outliers. This has been done by benefiting from the OECD’s knowledge acquired through previous works especially the expertise of the joint OECD-EU SIGMA Programme. In addition, respondents were asked to provide additional evidence to validate their answers which, in turn, have been verified with other external and additional sources, whenever available. Two workshops were organised at the OECD headquarters in April 2019 and October 2019, with the objectives of facilitating the data collection and validating the survey data, respectively. In particular for the data validation workshop, government officials responsible for the survey areas participated to discuss and validate the survey responses together with OECD staffs.

Data are also drawn from other international organisations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The public finance and economics data for Western Balkans countries and economies are based on the IMF’s World Economic Outlook (IMF WEO) and the IMF’s Government Financial Statistics (IMF GFS) databases. Data from the IMF WEO were extracted in February, 2020 corresponding to the October 2019 update. Data from the GFS database were extracted on February 19th, 2020. Moreover, for the OECD and the EU28 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: 14 January, 2020 (financial government accounts: 21 January, 2020). In many cases, data on public finances are presented for 2008 and 2018, showcasing the year of the beginning of the economic crisis as well as the latest actual year available.

The public employment data for Western Balkans, and the OECD and OECD-EU averages were extracted from the ILO dataset ILOSTAT on 19 February, 2020.

Despite the significant accomplishments of international organisations in harmonising data among the different statistical systems, several differences exist in different instances, which impact some of the indicators analysed. As a consequence, the methodological sections contain specific notes whenever specific methodological considerations need to be taken into account.

Indicators included in the Core Government Results chapter and Serving Citizens chapter are resulting from different sources, including the public opinion polls of Gallup World Poll, World Justice Project (WJP) database, World Bank’s Doing Business database, Council of Europe European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ) database, World Health Organisation – Global Health Observatory data and Universal Healthcare Service Coverage Index, the OECD 2018 PISA database, and European Commission’s eGovernment Benchmark.

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Country codes (ISO codes)

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines three letter codes for the names of countries, dependent territories and special areas of geographical interest.

The table below presents the codes used for the geographical display of some figures in this publication in line with the ISO codes and, where there is no official ISO code, the OECD practices:

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Countries and economies of the Western Balkans region



Bosnia and Herzegovina






North Macedonia




* With regard to Kosovo, see note on page 3.

Furthermore, on a few occasions, the following codes are used to display individual Bosnia and Herzegovina responses.

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Bosnia and Herzegovina – State level


Bosnia and Herzegovina – Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina


Bosnia and Herzegovina – Repulika Srpska


Bosnia and Herzegovina – Brcko District


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Western Balkans, OECD, OECD-EU and EU28 averages and totals

Colombia was not an OECD Member at the time of preparation of this publication. Accordingly, Colombia does not appear in the list of OECD Members and is not included in the zone aggregates.

For the OECD, OECD-EU and EU28 averages and totals, data are those published in Government at a Glance, 2019 and/or in the Government at a Glance online data set.


In figures and text, the Western Balkans, OECD, OECD-EU and EU averages are unweighted, arithmetic mean.

When a figure depicts information for one or more years, the Western Balkans average includes all countries and economies with available data (unless specified otherwise). For instance, a Western Balkans average for 2018 includes all current Western Balkan countries and economies with available information for that year.

In the case of National Accounts data, the Western Balkans, OECD and EU28 averages are presented and refer to the weighted averages, unless otherwise indicated. For the Western Balkans and OECD averages, the method of aggregation for the calculation of the indicators expressed as ratios (e.g. government expenditures in terms of GDP) use the denominator as weight (in this case the GDP, market prices, which is expressed in PPP). Averages for the EU28, which are those published by Eurostat and OECD, are calculated instead using Eurostat’s aggregation method which involves the conversion of national currency data into the euro using the average exchange rate of the period.

The EU aggregate presented in this publication refers to the OECD-EU group of countries that are both members of the OECD and European Union or in the case of National Accounts data to the EU28 member countries of the European Union. In the EU aggregate, the United Kingdom is included. In future publications, as soon as the time series presented extend to periods beyond the UK withdrawal, the “European Union” aggregate will change to reflect the new EU country composition. Interested readers may refer to the Eurostat website for further information on Eurostat’s plans for disseminating EU aggregates and to the Eurostat database for the actual series.


Western Balkans, OECD and OECD-EU totals are commonly found in tables and represent the sum of data in the corresponding column for Western Balkans, OECD and OECD-EU countries for which data are available. In some occasions, these totals are presented in percentages out of the total number of countries and economies where data is available. In such cases, the section of table is presented with the name of the region (Western Balkans, OECD and OECD-EU) instead of Western Balkans Total, OECD Total, and OECD-EU Total.

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Online supplements

Government at a Glance: Western Balkans also offers access to StatLinks, a service that allows readers to download the corresponding Excel files of the data. 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, supplementary materials – country factsheets and an online annex on contextual factors – are available online at

Country factsheets that present key data by country and economy compared with the Western Balkans and OECD averages (and, in some occasions, OECD-EU averages) were prepared for the six countries and economies of the Western Balkan region.

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Per capita indicators

Some indicators (e.g. expenditures, revenues and government debt) are shown on a per capita (e.g. 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 that are 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, vacationers) 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 of that country via production), but residents of another (with their wages and salaries reflected in the gross national income of their resident country).

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Purchasing power parities

Purchasing power parity (PPP) between two countries is the rate at which the currency of one country needs to be converted into that of a second country. This conversion is done to ensure that a given amount of the first country’s currency will purchase the same volume of goods and services in the second country as it does in the first. In consequence, when converted by means of PPPs, expenditures across countries are in effect expressed at the same set of prices enabling comparisons across countries that reflect only the differences in the volume of goods and services purchased.

The PPP index used for the Western Balkans 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.

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Composite indicators

The publication includes two descriptive composite indicators in narrowly defined areas. These composite indexes 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).

Details about the variables and weights used to construct the HRM practices composite indexes are available in Annexes A. 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.

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Signs and abbreviations

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. .

Missing values


Not applicable (unless otherwise stated)


Contracting authority


European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice


Centre of government


Central purchasing body


European Network of Councils for the Judiciary


Economic Reform Programme


European System of Accounts


European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo




Framework agreement


Gross domestic product


Government Finance Statistics


Government Finance Statistics Manual


Global Health Observatory


Human resources management


International Labour Organization


International Monetary Fund


Inter-Parliamentary Union


National digital government strategy


Public financial management


OECD’s Programme on International Student Association


Purchasing power parities


Public Private Partnerships


Stabilisation and Association Agreements


Supreme Audit Institution


Senior civil servants


Small and medium-sized enterprises


System of National Accounts


Tenders Electronic Daily


Universal healthcare


United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo


US Dollars


Value added tax


World Economic Outlook


World Health Organization


World Justice Project


OECD/European Union/JRC (2008), Handbook on Constructing Composite Indicators: Methodology and User Guide, OECD Publishing, Paris,

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