What is the OECD?

In many economic commentaries that students read the letters OECD frequently come up. So what is the OECD? Grant Cleland and Emma Doherty produced a useful summary in the Parliamentary Economic Review.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was established in 1961, and has its headquarters in Paris, France. It has the mission of promoting “policies that will improve the economic and social wellbeing of people around the world”. The organisation provides a forum in which governments can share experiences and understanding in order to develop and promote policies designed to improve the quality of people’s lives.

There are currently 34 members of the OECD (shown below), with New Zealand being a member since 29 May 1973. The latest country to join the group was Estonia on 9 December 2010.


The OECD collects and makes available a broad range of social and economic indicators, which allow member countries to compare their figures with other countries. Examples of these include unemployment rates, employment outlooks, health statistics, GDP and GDP per capita (i.e. New Zealand’s GDP per capita of US$32,117 in 2012 was ranked 20th in the OECD).

The OECD publishes a wide range of economic surveys, working papers, and reports on various topics of interest to member countries. These allow for the comparison of policies and statistics between OECD member countries (and some non-OECD member countries). OECD publications include:
–  Consumption tax trends.
–  Taxing wages.
–  Government revenue statistics.
–  The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
–  Pensions at a glance. 

The OECD’s 2014 budget is 357 million Euros (€357m), with funding coming from its member countries. Funding is split into two halves.

The first part (Part I programmes), which accounts for around 53 percent of the budget, is based on the size of the members economy. The United States contributes 21.2 percent of Part I funding, followed by Japan (12.86 percent). New Zealand’s contribution to Part I funding is 0.82 percent.

Part II programmes are those that are of interest to a limited number of OECD members or special sectors not covered by Part I. These Part II programmes are funded according to a scale of contributions or other agreements between participating countries.


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