Meet the Author: Michael Kaufman The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution

Meet the Author Session with Michael Kaufman, author of The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution at the 2019 OECD Forum.                    

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Can I just begin by saying that I am so delighted to be introducing a male champion of gender equality. Michael is one of the foremost Ambassadors for men to join the effort to empower women.

He is the co-founder of the White Ribbon Campaign—the largest international network of men working to end violence against women.

For decades he has been an advisor on gender equality to the United Nations, governments, NGOs, schools, and workplaces around the world.

His new book, The Time Has Come: Why Men Must Join the Gender Equality Revolution, is a timely manifesto for why men must take a stand in the fight for gender equality, and a reminder of everything society has to gain from it, including what men have to gain.

Michael, this goes to the core of the OECD’s work on gender.

For decades, the OECD has been applying the gender lens across policy areas, designing, developing and delivering the best policies to advance equality. This includes non-discrimination laws; dual parental leave; policies related to taxes, infrastructure, environment; and promoting gender representation in the high ranks of the public and the private sectors, including through quotas and targets.

We have child policies with excellent impact in terms of supporting women to work, and we have led the charge with gender neutral text books. We have brought this to the G20 with the 25×25 gender target in 2014, to help bring 100 million women into the workforce, and more recently with the findings on Bridging the Digital Gender Divide in 2018. And we are constantly tracking progress on all these issues.

However, change is very slow, and it is low because the first thing that has to change is our mindset. The gender stereotyping and cultural norms, what is good for a girl and what is good for a boy, and the expectations societies put in girls are a major obstacle for change.

And this is where the story of men is so relevant and I would like to thank Michael.

I was not a gender champion a decade ago, but when you get to know the facts, it’s about nothing more than fighting for what is fair.

But my conclusion is similar to what Michael tells us in his book. The same cultural norms that hold women behind, put a lot of pressure on men to conform to ideas and ‘rules’ about masculinity that prevent them having more meaningful lives.

An OECD study on “engaging boys and men” concluded that when fathers spend more time at home, there are great benefits: fathers’ involvement has a positive effect on children’s academic performance as well as on their behavioural, social, and emotional wellbeing.

Fathers who spend more time caring for and being with their children are also more satisfied with their lives than those who engage less.

Once when I was in Japan I was addressing a mostly male audience, and when I was asked something about gender, given the context, I just said that more humane working hours, and time to enjoy your children was good for men and women.

But getting the policy settings right involves a wide range of measures. OECD evidence on masculinities shows that of course family friendly policies, including paid parental leave are key.

But it’s also important to change curricula, including for early childhood education, to stop gender stereotypes even before they can take hold. It’s also important to promote media and awareness-raising campaigns to challenge stereotypes, including in adverts.

Michael, now I pass the floor to you, changing stereotypes is the core of your book, so please we look forward to hearing from you about why should men join the gender equality revolution?

Follow-up question 1:

What will it take to change these masculinities and the role models for men so that we can really build better more liveable societies?

Follow-up question 2:

How do we push back on the push back against women rights, as the UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka would say?

Follow-up question 3:

We’ve seen enormous changes in women’s lives over the past fifty years. Are we seeing any comparable changes among men?

Follow-up question 4:

There’s been a backlash against women’s right going up to the highest levels of government. Are you optimistic about the future of gender equality?

2019 OECD Forum Panel on “Towards a New Societal Contract”

Remarks as delivered in Paris, France at the 2019 OECD Forum. Opening remarks for the panel on “Towards a New Societal Contract” with panelists:

  • CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board and Management Board, Aegon N.V.
  • Maria João Rodrigues, Vice-President of the S&D Group, European Parliament; President, Foundation for European Progressive Studies
  • Dennis Snower, President, Global Solutions Initiative
  • Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of the Arts (RSA), UK

Opening Remarks

  • Thomas Hobbes theorised the notion of a “social contract” in 17th century England, during the Civil War, as a way to clarify the rights and responsibilities that bind citizens to one another and to the State.
  • In the first half the twentieth century, countries radically re-thought the social contrat and undertook massive welfare reforms. We need ambition on this scale.
  • In our interconnected world, this will require action at the international level. Paradoxically, we are seeing a retreat from multilateral approaches.
  • But people want a stronger social contract. Across 19 countries covered by the OECD Risks That Matter survey in 2018, 70% of respondents said government should do more to ensure their economic and social security. We have to listen to that call!
  • Why are people angry? Let’s take a look at the numbers:
  • We are seeing rising inequalities. Across the OECD the richest 10% now earn on average nine and a half times more than the poorest 10%, up from seven times in the 1980s. Wages have been stagnating for a decade.
  • Wealth inequalities are even worse with the top 10% capturing almost half of total wealth, and the bottom only 3%.
  • Economic vulnerability has risen. Over one-third of people in OECD countries would fall into poverty if they had to forgo 3 months of their income.
  • The digital revolution brings additional fears and may deepen divides.
  • According to our estimates, 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation across OECD and a further 32% will undergo significant changes, with low-skilled workers most at risk.
  • We are also seeing the rise of non-standard work, impacting job security, protection and collective bargaining and bringing negative impacts on career prospects and earnings.
  • Many of the traditional pillars supporting the social contract are under pressure.
  • Social mobility has stalled in many OECD countries. In an “average OECD country”, it could take up to five generations (or 150 years) for children of poor families to reach the average level of income.
  • Even the middle class is struggling. The OECD’s Squeezed Middle report found that over the past 30 years across OECD countries the median income has grown a third less than the average income of the top 10%. Half of middle-income households struggle to make ends meet.
  • We need to adapt our social contract to the 21st century:
  • Digitalisation is exposing gaps in our current education, training and social protection systems. In some OECD countries, non-standard workers are 40 to 50% less likely to receive income support during a period of unemployment.
  • The capacity for social dialogue has weakened. The share of workers who are members of a trade union has shrunk from 30% in 1985 to 16% in 2016.
  • To restore social mobility, education, health and family policies all have a role to play, so do effective social protection and tax and transfer systems.
  • The OECD is helping to address these challenges through our Inclusive Growth Initiative and our New Approaches to Economic Challenges (NAEC)
    • When Robert Skidelsky came to the OECD he said that ‘bad economics makes bad policies’. He hit the nail on the head.
    • We need to rethink our economic assumptions, models and frameworks, and put people at the centre, drawing on a range of social sciences.
    • We need a growth model that introduces equity and sustainability considerations ex ante, instead of assuming you can distribute or clean after you grow.
    • Through its Framework for Policy Action on Inclusive Growth, the OECD has developed a dashboard of 24 inclusive growth indicators to monitor progress.
  • To rebuild our social contract for the digital age, we must focus on restoring trust:
    • Trust has been one of the casualties of the crisis. Only 4 in 10 citizens in the OECD trust their Government.
    • To promote trust, policy-making must become more inclusive. Digital technology can help make governments more responsive and accountable through open government initiatives, participatory democracy and public sector innovation.

Discussion Points:

How would you define the social contract?

  • Social contract is a complex notion but to simplify one could say that it boils down to people’s expectations around what rights and responsibilities should look like, with respect to both their individual and collective dimension.
  • At the OECD we look at these areas in terms of “outcomes that matter to people”, as in our Well-Being Framework. Our focus on inclusive growth, and going beyond GDP, is about putting the social contract into action.
  • When defining the social contract, it is equally important to understand what are the risks against which people want to be protected.
  • The OECD is working to map social protection and risks, notably through its Risks that Matter survey, in order deliver more effective social policies and better adapted safety nets. The new OECD Jobs Strategy puts emphasis on the risks and challenges created by digitalisation and the Future of Work. It also focuses on the role that social dialogue and collective bargaining can play in mitigating these risks and responding to these challenges, which is why we are supporting the Global Deal.

Wage stagnation

  • Headline message: Wages have stagnated for large segments of the labour force, despite the recovery in employment following the Global Financial Crisis.
  • Data: In OECD countries, annual growth in nominal hourly wages dropped from 4.8% on average in the pre-crisis period to 2.1% in recent years.

Trade Union membership and Collective Bargaining Coverage

  • Headline message: Trade union membership and collective bargaining coverage have been declining in most advanced economies.
  • Data: The share of workers who are members of a trade union has shrunk from 30% in 1985 to 16% in 2016; the share of workers covered by a collective agreement has shrunk from 45% to 32% over the same period.
  • Recommendations:

Facilitating the emergence of new forms of social dialogue and accompanying the efforts of unions and employer organisations to expand their membership – also to non-standard workers – will be critical.

On the situation of the Middle Class

  • Headline message: Increasingly, pressures on the middle class are translating into a sense of anxiety about their economic situation.
  • Data and facts: Many middle class households view the socio-economic system as unfair: 58% of middle-income households in OECD countries feel that, given the taxes they pay, they do not receive their fair share of benefits and public services.
  • The cost of education, healthcare and especially housing have risen well above inflation over the past 25 years. House prices alone have grown 3 times faster than the median household income.
  • Labour market prospects are increasingly uncertain for many in the middle class. Mid-level skills no longer guarantee making it to the middle-income group. Moreover, one in six middle-income workers are in jobs that are at high risk of automation.

Social mobility

  • Headline message: As income inequality has increased since the 1990s, social mobility has stalled, meaning that fewer people at the bottom have moved up while the richest have largely kept their fortunes.
  • Data and facts: Families and communities in many countries seem to be trapped on the bottom rungs of the social ladder, particularly since the early 1980s. This means that children born into the bottom of the income distribution have less chance to move up and improve their occupational status and earnings than their parents and previous generations (“sticky floor”). At the other end of the scale, there is a “sticky ceiling” because inequality also means that those at the top of the income distribution may remain there for a long time.
  • In an “average OECD country”, it could take five generations (or up to 150 years) for children of poor families to reach the average income in their country.
  • Socio-economic status heavily influences employment prospects, job quality, health outcomes and education. For example, children whose parents did not complete secondary school have only a 15% chance of making it to university compared to a 60% chance for their peers with at least one parent who achieved tertiary-level education.



Launch of OECD Report “Addressing problematic opioid use in OECD countries”

Opioids Cover

Thank you to Sharon Armstrong – Chargée d’affaires at the Canadian Permanent Delegation to the OECD. I am grateful to Canada and to Deputy Minister Kennedy for the support they provided to the OECD for this work on this critical health emergency unfolding across countries, which is the opioid crisis.

I am grateful that we have this opportunity to  discuss it together today, to look at the scale of the problem, the root causes and the policy solutions.

The report we are releasing today – Addressing problematic opioid use in OECD countries – paints a very stark; a very worrying; a very tragic picture. A major opioid crisis has emerged over the past few years, especially in North America, which is devastating families and communities.

  • In Canada alone there were more than ten thousand opioid-related deaths between January 2016 and September 2018. Death rates increased from 8.4 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 11.8 in 2018, in just two years.
  • In the United States, more than 13 persons per 100,000 people died because of opioids in 2016 alone. Between 1999 and 2017 399 230 people have died from an opioid overdose in the US.
  • Other countries are not immune either, Australia also is suffering a high number of opioid-related deaths. So is Estonia, Sweden and Norway among European countries.
  • Use of opioids has been rising in many population groups, in some cases even in unexpected groups of people. For example, the United States have seen a raise of opioid abuse among pregnant women, especially among those with a lower level of education and a lower income.
  • Some groups are particularly vulnerable. In the United States, having a mental health disorder is also associated with a two-fold greater use of prescription opioids. Prisoners too are vulnerable. The prevalence rate of opioid use disorders in Europe was less than 1% among the general public but 30% in the prison population.

There are a number of factors that have fueled this crisis.

First, it has not occurred in a vacuum but in a specific context. Social and economic conditions, particularly of vulnerable groups of the population, have contributed to the opioid crisis. A recent study in the United States found that as county unemployment rates increase by one percentage point, the opioid death rate per 100 000 rises by 3.6%.

However, causality is complex, with some studies suggesting a reverse causality, claiming that it is problematic use that leads to an increase in unemployment. Clearly we need to get a better understanding of the forces at work.

The report also highlights the lack of housing as a factor, showing that an unstable housing situation increases problematic use of opioids and other drugs by preventing people from accessing treatment and exacerbating psychiatric symptoms.

Without a doubt, a key factor has been the increase in prescription and over-prescription of opioids for pain management.

The estimated amount of prescription analgesic opioids that is used annually has increased over the past 15 years in OECD countries. The sharpest increase happened in the 2000s, when a growth of around 58% was observed between 2002 and 2007!

The second contributing factor is a growing illicit drug market – which has greatly increased the availability of cheap and high-purity illicit opioids.

Finally, the crisis is also a result of limited access to preventive actions and treatments to minimize the terrible consequences of Opioid Use Disorder. And of the stigma and unemployment and housing problems suffered by these persons.

The message of this report is clear: Opioid Use Disorder needs to be considered a chronic health condition and we need to treat the opioid crisis as a public health crisis with an integrated people-centred set of policies.

More specifically, countries need to prevent overuse of opioids with actions to steer the behavior of patients and prescribers, while providing adequate access to pain management treatment and information about problematic use.

Of course, we have to look at the role opioid manufacturers have played in escalating the crisis. During the late 1990s and the 2000s, opioids manufacturers conducted marketing campaigns and funded third party advocacy groups, targeted at physicians, patients and policymakers, downplaying the problematic effect of opioids and opposing tighter regulations. We have to get the regulatory settings right to protect people from harm.

Countries need to improve treatment received by people with Opioid Use Disorder by strengthening the integration of health services, social policy interventions – such as unemployment and housing support – and criminal justice systems. Finally, there is a need for better research and strong health information systems.

It is urgent to take decisive action to stop the tragic loss of life and address the terrible social, emotional and economic costs of addiction with better treatment and health policy solutions.

I look forward to hearing about today’s discussion and the national perspective on what can be done to end this terrible crisis.

Remarks on “The Evolving Global Order in the Next 25 Years” at the 30th Anniversary of the Global School of Policy and Strategy (UC-San Diego)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to celebrate this great school’s 30th anniversary by looking to the future.

The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said that “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards”.

So to talk about the future evolution of the world order, we have to understand where we are coming from.

First, we have to recognise that the recovery is struggling: the OECD has revised down its growth projections for almost all G20 economies. Trade tensions are intensifying: global trade growth last year dropped to 4% from 5¼% in 2017. And growth in China will moderate to around 6% by 2020.

Second, we have to recognise that the geo-economic compass is recalibrating. The world economy’s centre of gravity is shifting south and east. The OECD share of world GDP,[1] which stood at over 60% at the turn of the century and about 50% ten years ago, is now below 45%. This is why remaining an open, relevant and welcoming Organisation with an effective accession process is vital.

Thirdly, we must recognise that the policies, models and approaches we have been promoting have failed to deliver sufficiently for people. This is contributing to fuel a crisis of trust in governance which has translated into very concerning electoral outcomes.

Let’s look at some of numbers from the OECD.

The income gap in the OECD between the top and bottom deciles has grown over the past three decades in most OECD countries. The average disposable income of the richest 10% of the population is now around nine and a half times that of the poorest 10% across the OECD, up from seven times in the 1980s.

Inequality of wealth is even more pronounced: the top 10% holds half of total wealth while the bottom 40% holds only 3%.

Social mobility is stalling. The OECD’s Broken Social Elevator report shows that in an average OECD country, it would take around four to five generations or 150 years for children from a family in the bottom earnings decile to reach the level of mean earnings.

I just launched the OECD’s report “Under Pressure: The Squeezed Middle Class”. It revealed that the median income in the OECD has grown a third less over the last three decades than the average income of the richest 10% and half of middle-income households struggle to make ends meet.

Most people feel they need more support from their government: The OECD’s “Risks that Matter” study found that 70% of respondents believe that government should be doing more to ensure their economic and social security.

The digital revolution is bringing additional anxieties about the future: The OECD estimates 14% of jobs are at high risk of automation, and an additional third face changes, with the low-skilled most at risk.

So we are in a situation where people have lost faith in the core tenets of the post-war global order and they are scared for their futures and their children’s futures.

Spurred on by populists, who exploit this sense of distrust, anger and betrayal with false promises and narratives of blame, people are turning their back on globalisation, on multilateralism, even on experts and academics!

We are in a paradox: never has multilateralism been so essential to address the inherently cross-border challenges of our interconnected world; and yet never has it been so under attack.

So where do we go from here? To save our multilateral system, we must improve it. And to improve it, we must ensure that it works to the benefit of all.

The OECD has been reflecting on this since the creation of our New Approaches to Economic Challenges Initiative (NAEC) in 2012. This is an organisational-wide effort to challenge our models and assumptions and upgrade our analytical frameworks.

We need to move away from simplistic neoliberalism – from general equilibrium models and rational agents. We saw with the crisis the inadequacy of those models. They did not capture the complex interconnections and contagion mechanisms in the global economy and they failed to understand that shocks do not always come from outside. The system itself produces the shocks that destabilise it.

We need more granular information, data and metrics to be able to check how policies will inter-react and impact different income groups, communities, regions and firms. We need to get away from growth first and distribute later, or clean later. We need to include equity considerations ex-ante, not ex-post.

This goes to the heart of the OECD’s work today. Let me just give a few broad lines:

At our Ministerial Council Meeting (MCM) last year on “Reshaping the Foundations of Multilateralism for more Responsible, Effective and Inclusive outcomes” we presented the OECD’s Framework for Policy Action on Inclusive Growth, with a dashboard of 24 indicators to help empower the people, places and firms that have been left behind.

The OECD’s Inclusive Growth Framework and Well-Being Framework aim to put people at the centre. Korea is currently testing the first inclusive growth country study and New Zealand is implementing the world’s first Well-Being budget this year. Where they lead, others will follow.

We are also getting business on board with the B4IG Platform.

We are helping countries harness the digital transformation through our Going Digital initiative, which offers an integrated policy response across seven dimensions [improving access, boosting use, unleashing innovation, ensuring quality jobs, promoting social prosperity, strengthening trust, and fostering openness].

We will go into this with Leaders at our Ministerial next month, so expect major outcomes.

Key for this agenda is to give people the right skills, not just for the future of work, but for the world of tomorrow – a world of universal connectivity, ubiquitous social media and fake news. This is why the OECD is creating the PISA Global Competence Framework to promote critical thinking, tolerance and socio-emotional skills and why we are looking at issues like the effects of the media on children.

We are also working to make the global order fairer, by tackling corruption, and concentrations of power and wealth. Here again, multilateral co-operation is essential and delivers results.

Take an issue like tax evasion and avoidance – the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting project (BEPS) and common reporting standard for the automatic exchange of tax information, has already led to 93 billion euros in revenues.

But we need to push further on the toughest most divisive issues, like with the G20 through the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, and now, taxing the digital economy and looking at market concentration, data security, privacy and ethics. We just adopted the AI Principles, for example.

And I could not leave out climate change – the mother of all multilateral challenges. We have to spark ambition by making the economic case for low emissions pathways. That is our focus with Financing Climate Futures: Rethinking Infrastructure.

So, in sum, I would say that globalisation and multilateralism are not ends in themselves, they are only worth defending if they improve people’s lives and protect our natural environments. So we have to get this right!

[1] Measured in PPP terms