Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is an international organization composed of thirty member countries committedtothe free-market economy and a representative democracy. Specifically, the organization lists the following as its focus for its members: increased employment, maintenance of financial stability, development of economies, sustainable economic growth, improved living standards, andgrowthofworld trade. It is headquartered at the Château de la Muette in Paris, France.

The purpose of the OECD is to provide assistance to governments with respect to three issues: economy, environment, and society. Besides being a negotiator to member countries, the OECD is also a clearinghouse for information and a publisher of books, papers, and reference materials on agriculture, business, technology, taxation, trade, and other areas. One of its annual publications is the OECD Factbook, which is a compilation of over one hundred economic, environmental, and social indicators. In addition, the organization publishes statistics, trends, and forecasts in many different areas.

Historical Background and Scientific Foundations

The OECD was originally founded in 1948 as the Organ-isation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC).

One of its founders, and its first secretary-general, was French economist and politician Robert Marjolin (1911– 1986). The OEEC was created to help administer the European Recovery Plan (what is commonly called the Marshall Plan) during the reconstruction of Europe after World War II (1939–1945). Later, it expanded to include countries outside of Europe. In 1961, the organization changed its name to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The 20 countries originally forming the OECD in 1961 are: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States. Later, as of December 2007, Japan, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Czech Republic, South Korea, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have joined the organization. Other non-member countries participate in activities of the OECD. Numerous countries are now being considered for membership in the organization.

Impacts and Issues

The publication OECD Factbook is an annual report that provides a global summary about the world's environmental, economic, and social trends. Over one hundred indicators evaluate the relative position of any OECD country. These statistical indicators deal with the following subjects: population, economic globalization, education, energy, environment, labor markets, macroeconomic trends, migration, prices, public finance, quality of life, and science and technology.

Within environmental trends, the OECD Factbook includes information on water and natural resources (specifically discussing fisheries and water consumption) and emissions and waste (specifically mentioning carbon dioxide emissions and municipal wastes). Countries rely on the statistics included within the OECD Factbook for comparisons between themselves and other member-countries regarding the environment, economy, and society, and their interrelationship.


GLOBALIZATION: The integration of national and local systems into a global economy through increased trade, manufacturing, communications, and migration.

MACROECONOMICS: Economics (transfers of money and wealth) at the level of the nation as a whole: often distinguished from microeconomics, the economics of individual persons, households, or businesses.

MARSHALL PLAN: Plan fostered by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall (1880–1959) in the years following World War II, intended to rebuild the economies of Western Europe through loans and grants.

Global climate change is considered by OECD officials to be one of the major concerns of the twenty-first century. As an organization that is historically able to deal with several major issues, the OECD is strategically positioned as an important organization in helping the world deal with environmental policy changes, along with how such changes affect economic and social policies.

See Also Economics of Climate Change; Environmental Policy; Europe: Climate Change Impacts; Europe: Climate Policy.


Web Sites

“Climate Change.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. <,3355,en_2649_34361_1_1_1_1_1,00.html> (accessed December 2, 2007).

“Environment Directorate.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. <,3355,en_2649_ 33713_1_1_1_1_1,00.html> (accessed December 2, 2007).

“For a Better World Economy.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. <,2987,en_2649_201185_1_1_1_1_1,00.html> (accessed December 2, 2007).

“OECD Factbook 2007: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. <> (accessed December 2, 2007).

“SourceOECD: The OECD's Online Library of Statistical Databases, Books and Periodicals.” Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2007. <> (accessed December 2, 2007).

William Arthur Atkins

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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

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Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)