Member area

Overwhelming public concern about the cost-of-living needs to be addressed by OECD and Governments

18 July 2023

A staggering 91% of the working population in 27 OECD countries is concerned about the cost of living, according to the OECD’s ‘Risks that Matter’ survey published today.

Almost half (47%) the people surveyed are worried about the cost of all four categories covered in the survey: essential food products, housing, home energy, and paying for debt.

Parents with children and respondents in the bottom-income quintile were particularly worried, compared to non-parents and the highest-income quintile (54% vs 43%, and 53% vs 39%, respectively). Unsurprisingly, the OECD finds that “more respondents tend to be worried about costs of living in countries where the social safety net is historically weaker”.

Only 1 out of 3 feels confident that government assistance will be sufficient in helping cope with increasing prices. Almost 3 out of 4 respondents call on governments to prioritise “helping people deal with rising costs of living”. Among the most cited actions that governments should prioritise is “improving job quality” (close to 70% across OECD countries).

Over half (51%) of respondents are worried about losing their work-related income, whether being employed or self-employed. This figure has barely moved compared to 2020 (54%) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The OECD explains it with “deeper insecurities” related to long-term impact of policies introduced at the time of the pandemic and, more recently, the uncertainty brought by the war in Ukraine. It does not acknowledge the rising level of part-time and temporary jobs, and the risks to employment posed by the continued monetary policy tightening supported by the OECD.


‘’An overwhelming majority of working people are understandably very worried about the cost of living and will be even more concerned today than they were six months ago when the survey was carried out, because of rising interest rates and the continuous decline of the purchasing power of wages."

— Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary ,TUAC

“The lack of public confidence in the policies being taken by Governments and being promoted by the OECD should ring loud alarm bells among policymakers” said Veronica Nilsson, General Secretary of TUAC.

“Governments would be foolish to ignore the massive public concern and need to question policies that aim to keep up monetary tightening, reduce fiscal support measures and wind down government expenditure.”

TUAC remains concerned that monetary policy tightening will trigger a recession with serious social (and political) consequences and repeat the unnecessarily long and painful labour market recovery of the 2010s.

TUAC calls on the OECD to hear public opinion and build a more coherent, broader strategy for governments to boost labour markets through more quality jobs, improve social policy and implement measures to tackle the real current drivers of inflation, notably profits, in a more efficient manner than reducing demand.



The survey was carried out in autumn 2022 and investigates the most urgent social and economic risks in 27 OECD countries, as perceived by 18-65 year olds.

The OECD countries surveyed were Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and the United States.