Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Demographics and Europe

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Dean Baker:

In an analysis of the impact that the crisis is having on Europe’s welfare state, the NYT told readers that:

“Demographics, too, are a challenge. On the one hand, workers fear that as they age, they will be at a disadvantage when competing for scarce jobs against younger, less expensive workers. Experts also fear a shortage of skilled workers, as Europe’s population ages and becomes more of a burden on budgets.”

Let’s see, older workers fear that they won’t be able to compete with younger workers for scarce jobs. So the problem is too few jobs, and too many workers. Would the situation of older workers be better if they were a relatively smaller share of the population and had more younger workers to compete against?

Of course the next sentence tells us that Europe has the opposite problem when it comes to skilled workers, too few workers and too many jobs. There is one problem with this story, the ratio of the wages of highly-educated workers to the wages of less educated workers is lower in Europe than in the United States. This is not consistent with a shortage of skilled workers in Europe.

The article also includes the claim that France has a 21.5 percent youth unemployment rate. It is worth noting that the main reason that the youth unemployment rate is higher in France than in the United States is that most French college students do not work, while most college students in the United States do work. (The unemployment rate is the percentage of the unemployed among the labor force, those either working or looking for work.) Approximately the same share of young people are unemployed in France and the United States.

A couple of the comments are also worth quoting:

There’s no major inconsistency in the quoted statement if “experts” are considered to have interests congruent with those of employers and opposite to those of “workers”. Certainly this is the case in the US among “experts” in the punditry and media in general.

This one comes up every few months and is intended to reassure the readers of the NYT that all is well with American capitalism and, even if it isn’t, we’re better off than those Old Europeans, particularly the French, with their shorter work weeks, long lunches, and 15 kinds of cream at the grocery store. It’s particularly important to point this out when things are going badly here and the Old Europeans seem to have better social protections than we do.

Posted by: PeonInChief | April 2, 2009 12:00 PM

Written by Leisureguy

6 April 2009 at 11:16 am

Posted in Daily life, Media, NY Times

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