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Measuring National Progress

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a detailed study of national progress indicators. Key comparators againts other countries were as follows:

* National income-Between 1992 and 2002, only five OECD countries saw their total GDP grow more quickly than the Australian average rise of 3.9%pa. Growth was highest in Ireland at 7.9%pa, the country of the potato famine of 1845-50 which saw many Irish come to Australia.

* Education and training- 19% of Australians in the 25-64 age group had a tertiary qualification in 2001 compared to tops of 28% for Americans to less than 7% in Portugal and Austria. 15% of 25-64 year olds across the OECD had a tertiary qualification.

*Work- Unemployment in Australia between 1999 and 2001 was 6.6% of the civilian labour force, down from 7.4% between 1989-91. Twelve OECD countries had higher average unemployment than Australia but our unemployment rate was higher than New Zealand (6%), Japan (4.8%) and the USA (4.3%).

*Threatened mammals and birds- In 2002 23% of Australia's mammal species and 12% of our bird species are designated as threatened. This compares to 71% of Hungary's mammals, 3% of mammals in Norway; 6% of birds in the UK.

*Change in a greenhouse gases- Between 1990 and 2000, the UN data show that Australia's greenhouse gas emissions increased by almost 18%, with Australia already starting from a high base (our per capita emissions were the highest among reporting countries). Greenhouse emissions grew more quickly in five of the 27 reporting countries, and grew most quickly in Spain, rising by 33% over the period. Eleven countries reported a decline in emissions between 1990 and 2000, with the largest decline in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (population 450,000) where emissions more than halved.

Posted Wednesday, 21 April 2004

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