Austria’s status performance continues to rank in the medium range (-3 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
The state of democracy is generally sound, and legal foundations are solid. There are, however, weak points, such as a high degree of media concentration and discrimination against minorities.
Compared with other OECD economies, the Austrian economy is in good shape and began to grow again in late 2009.
Austria has one of the world’s most extensive social welfare systems. Social policy is generally successful in providing the poor opportunities for social inclusion. But recent trends suggest the gap between rich and poor is widening.
Austria ranks 18th in terms of its quality of democracy.
Electoral processes are generally fair, although intransparencies in party financing are cause for concern. Observers criticize the absence of mechanisms able to monitor how parties spend public funds and private donations.
Media are free of interference but the print media market suffers strong concentration.
Civil rights are safely anchored in the constitution and generally protected in practice. Public awareness of informal discrimination has grown.
A well-established constitutional framework ensures practices remain in accordance with the rule of law.
Despite suffering some blows, Austria’s economic policy performance has hovered at average OECD levels (rank 16).
Most indicators point to a slow but sustainable rejuvenation of the economy since the 2009 global crisis. Fashioning a coherent economic policy from various points on the political spectrum will prove a significant challenge.
The labor market shows a growing employment rate gap between skilled und unskilled laborers, pointing to the need for improved training and activation policies.
The tax system is favorable to foreign capital but places a disproportionate burden on labor and the individual taxpayer by focusing on wages rather than property.
At rank 19, Austria has slid considerably in terms of social policy (-6 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
Austrians enjoy a sound and inclusive - but expensive - health care system. Cost inefficiency is a growing weak point.
Although poverty levels remain below the OECD average, there is a growing underclass of illegal immigrants and working poor in Austria. Income gaps are widening.
Family and pension policies need to adapt to future challenges. All-day childcare facilities need to be established and demographic changes require a swift reform of the pension system.
Integration policy bears significant shortcomings in the absence of a consistent concept regarding the integration of immigrants.
Given its neutrality status, Austria refrains from formulating a foreign policy in broadly international terms and is not subject to direct security threats. The country facilitates regional integration by participating in EU transnational police networks like Europol and the Schengen system.
Though (violent) crime rates are fairly low, ordinary crime is perceived to be a major issue. Public discourse about internal security focuses on migration as the root cause of crime, prompting the government to respond with promises to strengthen the police force.
Austria is losing considerable ground in efforts to ensure the sustainability of its resources.
The oft-cited image of a country taking the lead in environmentally friendly policies is marred by a disappointing reality: Austria is missing the goals set out in the Kyoto Protocol.
Research and innovation suffers from an inability to attract significant research institutions and personnel. Political commitments to innovation investment have to date not been realized.
Structural features in the education system such as the early tracking of students results in a socially unjust system that prevents talented children from disadvantaged families from developing their potential.