Examples of Consistency and Variability: Rural Policy Reviews of OECD Countries January 2012

Between 2006 and 2009, the OECD undertook a series of reviews of national rural development policy. The reviews largely followed a consistent approach and used the OECD’s New Rural Paradigm (NRP) as a common metric for assessing various national approaches. Although the reviews cannot be considered a formal evaluation of these rural policies, they do provide: a fairly uniform description of the policies being followed, a critique of the policies, and recommendations on how policies might be modified to make them more consistent with the philosophy of the NRP. In the paper we describe the review process and provide a synthesis of the OECD findings for the nine rural reviews. In all cases there was some evidence that parts of the NRP were being followed, but that significant parts of it were not yet adopted. Because of the diversity of situations, it is not surprising that each nation continues to follow an individual path in developing its rural policy, even though all members of the OECD have formally accepted the NRP as a guide for rural policy.

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Introduction Between 2006 and 2009 the Rural Programme of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) undertook a number of reviews of national rural policy in Germany, Mexico, Finland, the Netherlands, Scotland, Italy, Spain, Quebec and England (OECD 2007a; OECD, 2007b: OECD, 2008a; OECD, 2008b; OECD 2008c; OECD 2009a; OECD 2009b; OECD 2010; OECD 2011) . The reviews examine rural policy, using the OECD’s New Rural Paradigm as a metric. In some cases, England, Quebec and Scotland, the review covered only a portion of the territory of the country that is the actual member of the OECD, but in these three instances distinct national level rural policies developed and operated by that nation that are specific to the territory . While most of the reviews covered members of the European Union, which have a supranational policy layer in common, both Quebec and Mexico are outside the EU. In addition, the reviews cover a large cross-section of rurality, including nations with sparse and remote rural territory, Finland, Mexico, Quebec, Scotland; and largely peri-urban areas, England and the Netherlands. Reviews were commissioned by individual countries and they are designed to provide an external assessment of current policy and suggestions for improvement. Because of the inherent selection bias that results from self-selection, it cannot be concluded that the reviews are representative of the OECD membership. In particular, these nations may have embraced the NRP more fully than other members , since they were aware that it would be used in the assessment process. The reviews demonstrate that there are a number of elements that consistently appear in almost all cases. But, at the same time, there are considerable differences. These differences include things that are unique to a single nation and things that are common to a subset of nations, but are not shared by others. One way to view the work of the OECD in rural policy analysis is as falling into the tradition of microeconomic policy analysis (Cohen, 2001; Henry, 1991; Weimer and Vining, 2005). The central focus of this approach is captured by the tag line of the title of Henry’s book – “Helping the invisible hand”. Microeconomic policy approaches start from a foundation of market based institutions, but recognize that the state plays an important role in resolving market failures. OECD Rural Policy Reviews largely adopt this approach, mainly because a key mission of the OECD is to help strengthen market forces in its member countries. Reviews are not formal policy evaluations, but can be thought of as policy assessments that use a consistent methodology. Reviews involve first identifying the current context or set of conditions in the rural parts of the nation, then reviewing existing rural policy, and finally, undertaking an assessment of current policy and making recommendations for policy reform. A benefit from synthesizing the reviews is the ability to identify consistency and variability in rural conditions and rural policy. The main function of the OECD is to provide a forum for market oriented democratic countries to discuss common problems and develop shared solutions. The reviews contribute to this process, both by identifying common issues and by providing information on how these problems have been addressed in specific places.-Figure 5: Consistency of Current Rural Policy with the New Rural Paradigm
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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-10-12

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