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Advancing Structural Reforms in OECD Countries: Lessons from Twenty Case Studies

Listed author(s):
  • William Tompson


  • Thai-Thanh Dang


This paper presents in summary form the findings that emerge from a study of 20 structural reform episodes in 10 OECD countries. The study’s principal messages may be summarised as follows. First, it pays to have an electoral mandate for reform. Secondly, major reforms should be accompanied by consistent co-ordinated efforts to persuade voters and stakeholders of the need for reform and, in particular, to communicate the costs of non-reform. This communications challenge points to the need for policy design to be underpinned by solid research and analysis, which serves both to improve the quality of policy and to enhance prospects for reform adoption. Partly for these reasons, many of the least successful reform attempts were undertaken in haste, often in response to immediate pressures. The cohesion of the government is also critical: if the government is not united around the policy, it will send out mixed messages, and opponents will exploit its divisions. Finally, while much of the political economy literature focuses on agency and the interplay of interests, the condition of the policy regime to be reformed also matters. This paper relates to The Political Economy of Reform: Lessons from Pensions, Product Markets and Labour Markets in Ten OECD Countries, OECD, Paris, 2009,,3343,en_2649_33733_43756114_1_1_1_1,00.html Faire avancer les réformes structurelles dans les pays de l'OCDE : Enseignements de vingt études de cas Cet article présente un resumé des résultats qui emergent d’une analyse de vingt études de cas de réforme structurelle dans 10 pays-membres de l’OCDE. On peut résumer comme suit les principaux messages de cette étude. Premièrement, un mandat électoral en vue de réformes est extrêmement utile. Deuxièmement, les grandes réformes doivent se doubler d’une action coordonnée cohérente en vue de persuader les électeurs et les autres parties prenantes de la nécessité d’une réforme et, plus particulièrement, de faire connaître les coûts de la non-réforme. Ce problème de communication souligne la nécessité de recherches et d’analyses solides pour une conception efficace des politiques, afin d’améliorer à la fois la qualité des mesures et les perspectives d’adoption des réformes. En partie pour ces raisons, un grand nombre des réformes les moins réussies ont été entreprises à la hâte, souvent en réaction aux pressions immédiates. La cohésion gouvernementale est elle aussi cruciale : si le gouvernement n’est pas uni autour de la politique souhaitée, il adressera des messages ambigus et l’opposition exploitera ses divisions . Enfin, s’il est vrai qu’une bonne partie des ouvrages d’économie politique sont centrés sur les relations de mandat et l’interaction des intérêts, la situation du régime à réformer joue également un grand rôle. Ce document se rapporte à L’économie politique de la réforme : Retraites, emplois et déréglementation dans dix pays de l’OCDE, OCDE, Paris, 2009, (,3343,en_2649_33733_43756114_1_1_1_1,00.html)

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Paper provided by OECD Publishing in its series OECD Economics Department Working Papers with number 757.

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Date of creation: 19 Apr 2010
Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:757-en
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