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Society at a Glance 2009

OECD Social Indicators

image of Society at a Glance 2009

Society at a Glance offers a concise quantitative overview of social trends and policies across the OECD. This 2009 edition includes a wide range of information on social issues – such as demography and family characteristics, employment and unemployment, poverty and inequality, social and health care expenditure, and work and life satisfaction –as well as a guide to help readers understand the structure of OECD social indicators. 

In addition to updating some of the indicators from previous editions, Society at a Glance 2009 adds several new and innovative social indicators, including adult height, perceived health status, risky youth behaviour and bullying. For the first time, the report also provides a condensed set of headline social indicators summarising social well-being in OECD countries. In addition, a special chapter examines leisure time across the OECD.

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Total social spending

A comprehensive account of the total amount of resources that each OECD country devotes to social support has to account both public and private social expenditures, and the extent to which the tax system affects the effective amount of support provided. To capture the effect of the tax system on gross, before tax social expenditures, account should be taken of the government claw back through the direct taxation of benefit-income and the indirect taxation of the goods and services consumed by benefit recipients. Moreover, governments can pursue social goals via tax breaks for social purposes (e.g. child tax allowances), which tends to make total social spending in excess of gross spending. From a social perspective of society, net after tax social expenditure, from both public and private sources, gives a better indication of the resources committed to social goals.

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