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The envy of the world

Barely a working day goes by when I don’t read some nauseating editorial in some left-of-centre organ warning of the ‘dangers’ of becoming more like America and demanding even greater integration into Europe.

Europe, you see, is more attuned to concepts of ‘social justice’ and therefore kindler, gentler and more humane. A place where those vulgar ‘market forces’ are tamed and brought under ‘democratic control’. Yes, Europe is an altogether more civilised model of society.

Except that I think we now have pretty incontrovertible proof that the European ‘model’ is actually a long, drawn-out extinction event:

Fertility rates across Europe are now so low that the continent’s population is likely to drop markedly over the next 50 years. The UN, whose past population predictions have been fairly accurate, predicts that the world’s population will increase from just over 6 billion in 2000 to 8.9 billion by 2050. During the same period, however, the population of the 27 countries that should be members of the EU by 2007 is predicted to fall by 6%, from 482m to 454m. For countries with particularly low fertility rates, the decline is dramatic. By 2050 the number of Italians may have fallen from 57.5m in 2000 to around 45m; Spain’s population may droop from 40m to 37m. Germany, which currently has a population of around 80m, could find itself with just 25m inhabitants by the end of this century, according to recent projections by Deutsche Bank, which adds: “Even assuming (no doubt unrealistically high) annual immigration of 250,000, Germany’s population would decline to about 50m by 2100.”

This is what happens when children are taxed out of the family budget. And it gets worse:

A recent report from the French Institute of International Relations predicts that, by the middle of the century, the EU’s GDP will be growing at just over 1% a year compared with more than 2% in North America and at least 2.5% in China. The EU, the report gloomily concludes, faces a “slow but inexorable ‘exit from history’ “.

I really do recommend that the whole article be read in order to fully appreciate that Europe’s political classes are standing hip-deep in merde. Nor are there any easy solutions to which they can turn. Radical reforms are politically impossible and even cranking up the immigration rates by several orders is not going to save them. If the host population is dying out then the newcomers are not so much ‘immigrants’ as replacements; the demographic equivalent of a blood transfusion. Out with the old and in the with new. Still, there is a possibility that the ‘new’ Europeans might have taken on board the object lesson and realised that socialism is suicide. Perhaps that is the solution after all.

So Europe will probably try to muddle through its demographic problem. There will be some pension reform, a bit more immigration, more family-friendly policies, higher taxes, growing fiscal problems for many governments and slower economic growth. With luck the European Union will avoid or postpone a really huge economic crisis. But the political and economic renaissance of Europe that was predicted at the European convention is likely to be stillborn.

Yes it really was as recent as a few months back that my ears were assailed with all those triumphal, confident proclamations that a ‘United Europe’ was soon going to overtake the USA as an economic power. I laughed my arse off. Now I almost pity them.

The future is not bright. They don’t need shades.

40 comments to The envy of the world

  • Dave O'Neill

    Playing Devil’s Advocate:

    How on Earth can you conclude that lower birth rates (using the phrase fertility rates, in my mind suggests something else) is to do with the EU and not a trend we will expect to see in all advanced industrial societies.

    What is the birth rate currently in the non-immigrant US population? Given that according to all UN population surveys the trend is towards zero population growth globally within 2 generations, why are you surprised?

    Taking this little corner of Europe, the UK, the population pressures in the South East do need to be eased somehow.

  • David,

    The decline in fertility rates is spread all across the western world in similar fashion. It is not particular to Europe, as you surely know. The principal causes are the pill and feminism, which factors combine to “empower” women to control their fertility. A number of other factors conspire towards the same end and one, the fall in sperm counts across the developed world, has the added complication of making conception in later life even more uncertain for women than it is anyway.

    For economic reasons Canada has attempted to correct the actual and forecast fall in its white population by an agressive immigration programme. In the 2001 census 18.3% of Canadians were born outside of the country. However, even this extraordinary programme is not sufficient to maintain the overall population level.

    Actually, economically, one of the worrying aspects of the fall in reproduction is that it tends to affect those with the lowest IQ least, that is to say that they breed less controllably. Average IQ is a powerful corrolate of national prosperity.

    New third world immigrants also demonstrate particularly high reproductive rates. But after a generation this settles down to the general population average, presumeably because the same influences which depress white fertility rates apply also to the second generation immigrant.

  • Dave O'Neill

    the fall in sperm counts across the developed world

    I was at a talk by reproductive biologist and fertility expert Professor Jack Cohen a while ago where he talked about this subject. His view, which is starting to be born out with more detailed surveys that the “fall in sperm counts” is mostly down to a change in the way a viable sperm count was made during the last 20 years. This more than covers the difference between the sperm counts collected in the 50’s and the present day.

    I suspect that the biggest factor is women putting off the decision until their late 30’s or even early 40’s and finding it much harder to conceive.

    Obviously, this will have an impact on the social demographics as other groups won’t put off that decision.

  • zack mollusc

    What’s wrong with having a shrinking population?
    Don’t come that old ‘you need an ever-expanding population to support the elderly’ crap. That hasn’t really been true since the industrial revolution.

  • Guy Herbert


    “…”empower”…? You don’t sound like you think that women shouldn’t control their own fertility. Who the hell should?

    “Actually, economically, one of the worrying aspects of the fall in reproduction is that it tends to affect those with the lowest IQ least, that is to say that they breed less controllably.”

    A lot of people seem to have had this worry over the years–though most of them aren’t sufficiently Marxian to consider it an economic problem. (I used to think it was a cultural and political one.)

    Fortunately there’s no evidence for it. The successful may appear to have lower gross fertility, but their offspring are generally more successful, and are joined in every generation by more of the talented children of those lower down the scale than drop out among their own. You can think of it as a special application of the Hardy-Weinberg Law.

    “Average IQ is a powerful corrolate of national prosperity.”

    1. Really? 2. Why do you assume high average IQ causes prosperity, not the other way round, nor that both might result from something else? 3. So what?

  • Guy Herbert

    However, you do need an ever-expanding population to support the Ponzi scheme that is the European social model), Mr Mollusc… (Or for that matter the US Social Security.)

  • Eamon Brennan


    “Average IQ is a powerful corrolate of national prosperity.”

    Guy is right. One does not follow on from the other. Rather higher prosperity, education and IQ all follow a virtuous circle. You are making the mistake of thinking that IQ measures intelligence rather than measuring how well some particular mental faculties have responded to education.

    Eamon Brennan

  • Jacob

    The doomsayers once complained that too much population growth will exshaust earth’s resources.
    Now the doom scenario is diminishing population.
    They once said the problem was the cooling of earth, now it’s warming.
    These are natural developements that we cannot control, and must not try to.
    I don’t see what is wrong with diminishing populations (or growing populations). Just leave natural processes to run their course.

  • I’d argue that a shrinking population is good to the extent it brings down social welfare.

    The first commenter asks whether decreasing fertility has to do with the EU. It does, since the trend in the US goes the opposite way.

    As for the desire of the left to integrate with Europe so as not to become like America, it’s perfectly understandable. In a competitive meritocracy, these people do not have a chance in hell. In a centrally planned mediocracy, they can rise to the top.

  • Kodiak


    “I’d argue that a shrinking population is good to the extent it brings down social welfare”

    Well I’m delighted to inform you that there will be 10 % more Frogs in 2050 (ha ha ha !!!) than the current 60 millions.

    And this extra 5 or 6 million new Frogs will be grateful to powerful fertility rate, not to immigration.

    So there will certainly be more & more Welfare in France.

  • Guy, Eamonn,

    Of course you’re right. Low IQ is a correlate of low prosperity. The best work on this is IQ and the Wealth of Nations by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen. Well worth a read. My poor editorial skills yet again frustrate transmission of the message! Apologies.

  • S. Weasel

    I’m with the Mollusc on this. I don’t understand why the health of nations or corporations are judged by growth. Surely there’s such a thing as a healthy, balanced stasis (absent Social Security, which we all should be absent of anyway).

    Yes, we have the technology to feed an expanding population, but who wants to live on Planet UrbanCementCouncilHouse? I’m claustraphobic enough now.

    Hooray for Europe, for once.

  • zack mollusc

    Fair comment re the ponzi welfare.

    Does anyone else think the Golgafringans were on the right track?

  • Kodiak,

    There might be 10% more, but the number of retired people and other welfare recipients is going to increase by much more than 10%. The increase in population required to support the system is unlikely to be achieved without massive immigration. Given current trends, I wouldn’t be surprised if there more retirees than active citizens in Old Europe by 2050.

    Something has to give.

    In standard frog fashion, I shall address the problem by running away from it. To the US.

  • Silvain,

    My clear understanding is that the birthrate among European Americans is 1.5 children per couple. Replacement rate is a nominal 2.1 so I don’t altogether understand your remarks.

    It is certainly true that Mexicans, whose entry into the south west is not exaggerated by the term “flood”, are great lovers of having kids. But somehow I don’t think you are referring to them.


    As European economies are magnets for the poor of the world a shrinking white European population has obvious dangers over several decades. Do you really need them spelt out for you?

  • Projected fertility rates from the US Census bureau by race and ethnicity for 2000/2010:

    All races: 2.13/2.12
    White: 2.11/2.1
    Black: 2.19/2.14
    Native American: 2.1/2.45
    Asian: 2.07/2.25
    Hispanic: 3.11/2.81

    Most Hispanics count as “white,” so are also included in the white category, but they’re still only 13% of the total population. The non-immigrant figure is therefore probably well above the European figure. This makes sense. remember that the US is a much more actively religious place than Europe, and that having children is thought of as, shock horror, a good thing.

  • S. Weasel

    remember that the US is a much more actively religious place than Europe, and that having children is thought of as, shock horror, a good thing.

    You sure about this? I don’t think Protestants have an opinion one way or the other about children (except that you shouldn’t make them in public), and I’d be surprised if we were more Catholic than Europe. Southern Europe, anyway.

  • Dave O'Neill

    How on Earth do they “prove” the High Taxation is a cause of lower child birth rates? Higher costs for things like a good education, yes. Higher Tax? Come on! Most places give you money for them, even for relatively high incomes in the UK will you get family tax credits.

    My wife and I long ago took the decision we don’t want kids. So? It is our choice and I don’t want people to pressure me into breeding because we both have good jobs and higher degrees. I certainly don’t want my life dictated by reglions, and certainly not the reglion my parents forced on me thank you.

  • Ian,

    Very interesting, I stand corrected. To put these figures in context, the Population Resource Centre states that the average US household has declined over the last thirty years from 3.1 persons to 2.6 persons. It also claims that the fertility rate has dropped over the same period from 2.5 to 2.0 and out of wedlock births have tripled to 36%. Interestingly, it also says that non-Hispanic whites have the lowest fertility in the country, at 1.8 children/woman which is slap-bang in the middle of where I thought and what your figure says.

  • Guy Herbert

    There can be found fringe loonies against contraception on both wings of the Christian church; Weasel, the US is mostly much, much more religious than almost anywhere in Europe; so you can probably find reserves of anti-contraceptive belief that we don’t have in all the mansions of the church, because the pool of serious believers is that much greater.

    Italy is nominally around 90% Catholic, is not noted for sexual repression, but it has some of the lowest birth-rates in Europe. Whereas, I distinctly recall condom-machines in rather un-Catholic North Carolina bearing notices something like this: “For the prevention of disease only; not for birth control.”

  • Kodiak


    “The increase in population required to support the system is unlikely to be achieved without massive immigration”

    That’s right, in part.

    Let’s take Fr example & age breakdown (0-19, 20-59 & >59):

    2000 >>> 25,5 % – 54,0 % – 20,5 %
    2050 >>> 20,0 % – 45,0 % – 35,0 %.

    So you see, there’s nothing that dramatic & the change will be gradual (50 years) >>> contrary to the neocons-sponsored rationale saying there’s gonna be a huge earthquake as soon as tomorrow & that the pension system will blow up within 2 years etc.

    And good news: once all the baby-boomers are six feet under (sorry for them, but that’s guarantedd by 2050), there will be a massive drop in old people & so the so-called pension “demographic collapse” will just be a dream of the past.

    You’re right again: immigration (in addition to strong fertility) will bring new vigourous arms in & also fresh cash to finance the eldest surviving baby-boomers.

  • S. Weasel

    Guy: ach! That’s a bit of a sore spot for me. Yes, the US is more religious, but not nearly as religious as the relentless stream of oh-dear-the-US-is-so-religious articles in the British press makes it seem. There are some hotbeds of god-bothering, but the preponderance of the country is as spiritually bankrupt as you might wish.

    I grew up in the rural South – surely the dark heart of American Bible-chewing nitwittery – and people with big families either had a lot of land to farm, or they were too dim to figger out that birth control thing for themselves. Jesus was pretty much mum on the family planning.

    Incidentally, I caught a bit of Blair’s speech driving home last night, and I was startled to hear him refer to “God’s judgment”. A bit specific, that. American political speech seldom goes beyond vaguely invoking a wispy, generic, creamy nougat sort of God, what with that separation of church and state and all.

  • T. Hartin

    Kodiak, I think your numbers need to be adjusted .

    First, there is the fact that, unless France declines to improve its health system, the boomers will be living longer lives, extending their years as pensioners.

    Second, some adjustment needs to be made to reflect the number of workers in the public sector, and the number of people of working age who don’t work at all. Public sector workers, after all, are supported by money/wealth generated by the private sector, just as pensioners are. The interesting number isn’t who is old enough to work, but how many people actually work in the private sector, and how many other people each worker has to support through taxes and other exactments.

    Third, I don’t know what the average retirement age is in France. 59 may be about right.

  • Mr Hartin;

    You don’t even need to adjust Kodiak’s numbers. Assuming that only the 20-59 category is working, we see that the ratio of working to retired grows from about 2-1 to nearly 1-1 in that time frame. It seems implausible that won’t create unbearable strain on pensions. The additional strains you bring up make it even worse.

    I would also like to see Kodaik cite an actual neocon claiming either that there will be “a huge earthquake as soon as tomorrow & that the pension system will blow up within 2 years etc.”. The phrase “an inexorable exit from history” seems about right.

  • Martin

    I don’t agree that taxation directly causes people not to have children. I do believe there’s a correlation, but it’s not quite so direct.

    The idea that people make decisions to have children based on disposable income is easily disproved by reflecting that in the parts of the world where people are the poorest, the fertility rates are among the highest.

    One fact not yet mentioned (I’m a bit surprised) is that in a country without any kind of social welfare program, as most 3rd world countries don’t have, having children is the best way that people can ensure that someone will be around to take care of them when they are too old and feeble to take care of themselves. And obviously, by having more children, the burden is spread out more thinly, in addition to making ones “retirement program” more resistant to plagues, accidents and wars.

    This explains both the high fertility rates in the developing world, and the lower fertility rates in the Western world, where taxes pay for a social welfare program (such as it is) and thus make it possible to have some sort of security in retirement even without children.

    The other aspects to be considered are cultural, as Western cultures have become more youth- and self-obsessed, the idea that one needn’t have children to feel fulfilled or to fulfill an important role in society has become the norm.

    Here’s a quick war story: I just got back from Afghanistan with the National Guard. While I was there, one of the people I worked with was a 35-year old female captain, who was divorced. One night, she was invited, along with several other officers, to dine with an Afghani general and his family. Capt. X was the only single female in the group, and as soon as she explained to her host and his wife that she was single and childless, they immediately reacted with pity. Poor thing! Didn’t she want to find a man and have children? They reassured her that she was still young and pretty enough to find a man, but broadly hinted that she had better get on the ball.

    The point here being that cultural trends and social norms also play a big part in this. Nice thing about those trends, though, is that as circumstances change, so will the trends.


  • veryretired

    There are several factors operating in this situation that make predicting the future very difficult.

    First, there is a natural tendency, observed in several different cultures over the last half-century, to start to limit family size as one’s standard of living improves. Children are more likely to survive, and the investment required to prepare them for adulthood increases. The old farming culture that had a use for six or eight kids to help with chores is mostly gone now.

    The baby boomers are the first generation to receive most of the benefits of modern medicine from birth, especially vaccines and antibiotics. (I was one of the experimental group back in the fifties to receive polio vaccine—my mother still considers Jonas Salk a saint). Our group size will present some real problems as we enter our 70’s and 80’s. A huge percentage of medical care is consumed by seniors in the last 24-36 months of life.

    However, the demographic catastrophe that was supposed to occur when a very small generation of Y’s, those in elementary and secondary school now, were to support a huge boomer generation of retirees is apparently not going to happen the way it was predicted. The demographers, not to mention the school districts, were caught off guard by the unexpected appearance of several million more kids, had late in life by moms who had put off pregnancy. This “boom echo” has the potential to be a very healthy, well educated, long lived and very productive generation, coming into its best earning years just when the boomers are exiting, and the gen X’s are retiring.

    The real problem that will almost certainly confront our grandchildren, (speaking as a boomer), and their children is, given the potential for increased longevity from medical advances in genetics and other death averting techniques, what does a society do with millions of elderly who are reasonably healthy, active, perhaps even still working, decades past the time when other generations have passed on?

    Just as one example, what does tenure mean at a university if the teaching life of a professor goes from 25 or 30 years to 60 or 75 years?

    There are moral and social dilemnas in the future that are much more significant than just whether or not the current Social Security scheme will survive.

  • Nate

    Veryretired: Your comment is, as usual, poignant and thought-provoking. While I certainly have no answers to the future, I have read stories by Heinlein (and others) that have touched upon this topic as early as the 1940’s. (See, for example, “Methuselahs’ Children”, “Beyond This Horizon”, and “Time Enough for Love”.)

    Personally, I look forward to the day when I might be one of those tenured professors who has been teaching for 60 years. Professor Farnsworth (from the cartoon serial, Futurama) is one of my favorite characters. 😉

  • Kodiak

    T. Hartin,

    “(…) unless France declines to improve its health system (…)”
    >>> The system needs no “improving”: it’s the best in the World (fact universally acknowledged: from London to New York through Singapore…).
    >>> If “improving” means “privatising”, it shall never be “improved”: you can count on that.

    “(…) the boomers will be living longer lives, extending their years as pensioners”
    >>> That’s right. Except that whatever scientific findings, boomers won’t live 130 years. In 2050 all boomers will be at St Peter’s, & the pressure over pension will be eased off.

    “(…) some adjustment needs to be made to reflect the number of workers in the public sector, and the number of people of working age who don’t work at all”
    >>> Following figures may need ascertaining although they’re not too far from reality: unemployment rate = 9 % (make it 10 %), public sector workforce (all types of civil servants, army included) = 30 %.
    So that’s 60 % of the working pop that’s actually working in the private sector. With the civil-servant non-replacement scheme currently implemented, the rate should be around 70 % by 5 or 10 years (unemployment being identical).
    Whatever the figures, people working for the public sector do get a salary & pay taxes to finance unemployment welfare & pension systems. So the song about “private sector sustaining useless public sector” may be oversung.
    Public sector also contributes to private business prosperity as: 1/ it provides them with basic, working infrastructures (unlike Californian electricity); 2/ it is a very good customers for contracting companies.

    I couldn’t tell you the accurate retiring age. Legally speaking, retiring is supposed to be possible from 60 on (also from 50 on depending upon job’s penibility – military may retire as soon as 35 or 40 with low/regular pensions…). Many systems do apply. They are even pre-retiring schemes eligible once you’re 55 (& once your boss, too, wants it, of course).


    Annoying Old Guy: many righ-wing politicos here are traumatising the average Frog with apocalyptic rationale about the collapse of the system. True something must be done to counter demographic inescapable pressure. Opinions do not diverge on that. They diverge on how to tackle the pressure. French liberals (= pseudo-neocons) think that making retiring age higher only, is THE solution for sound financial management. That’s obviously wrong. But I’m afraid alternative solutions would seem too “communist” or “leftist” to you all…

  • Jacob

    Very interesting comments.
    Returning to the main post, David said:
    “I really do recommend that the whole article be read in order to fully appreciate that Europe’s political classes are standing hip-deep in merde. ”

    Why does David think that somebody (political classes or others) are “standing hip-deep in merde”?
    I don’t think the diminishing birth rates are a problem at all. Certainly not a problem the “political classes” should try to do something about. Certainly not a problem that anybody can or should do anything about.
    There won’t be enough income to support pensions? Tough ! The pensioners will have to make do with whatever income will be available. And, beeing relatively healthy, they have the option to keep working and earning. Things will sort themselves out naturally.

  • Guy Herbert


    Watching Blair speak from this side of the Atlantic, many have remarked how much that speech was tailored to an American audience. The direct reference to God may have been misjudged, but he would never have dared try it at home, despite the nominal establishment of the Church of England.

    It might just finish him as a serious politician in this country. He is openly Christian, but though it assuredly wins him points in some quarters, it is a cause for suspicion, not admiration in Britain, where such things are kept out of public life as far as possible. Most British public figures are in the closet about their faith–or lack of it.

  • Kodiak

    Demographic pressure may affect pension system management & Welfare management.

    Some have argued that the “burden” of the public sector is a threat to overall economic balance.

    Note also that low productivity & small productivity gains that have steadily been characterising the privatised Anglo-Saxon countries (as opposed to outperforming EU members like France & Germany) can also be an economic threat within the Anglospheric freemarket area as for pension management:


    1/GDP PER CAPITA (UK = 100)

    USA 142
    Japan 116
    Germany 105
    France 104
    UK 100

    2/GDP PER HOUR WORKED (UK = 100)

    France 126
    USA 122
    Germany 112
    UK 100
    Japan 93


    USA 124
    France 120
    Germany 115
    UK 100
    Japan 79


    a.1950 – 1973

    Japan 6,1
    France 4,6
    Germany 5,2
    UK 3,0
    USA 2,3

    b.1973 – 1999

    Japan 2,8
    France 2,6
    Germany 2,3
    UK 2,1
    USA 1,1

  • T. Hartin

    “Note also that low productivity & small productivity gains that have steadily been characterising the privatised Anglo-Saxon countries (as opposed to outperforming EU members like France & Germany) ”

    This is a joke, right?

    First, note that the US outperforms France on every front.

    Second, note that the numbers run through 1999. In the last three years, the stagnation of the Euro model has become much more pronounced, and the trend of higher growth in the US has been unbroken.

    Third, the historic growth rate (through 1973) has more to do with France and Germany catching up after being, respectively, rescued and shellacked, by America in WWII.

    Fourth, the relatively poor performance of the UK may have a lot to do with the fact that the UK labors under some of the same socialist policies that infest the Continent. I seem to recall the Irish posting some pretty nice numbers after adopting some pro-growth policies as well.

    The verdict is pretty much in that the American economic model is more productive than the Euro “social democracy” model. Any case for the Euro model has to be made on grounds other than productivity, such as quality of life, but, as the man said “quantity has a quality all its own.”

  • Many people who attend college seem to pick up a snide, cynical, superior attitude toward almost everything in the world. (This seems to be more true in the humanities than in the sciences, and is particularly true for those who attend graduate school.)

    I wonder if this might have something to do with reduced fertility rates? Chronic Weltschmerz may not be compatible with the desire to have children.

    This may also explain US-Europe differentials, since the Weltschmerz factor among European elites seems even higher than in the US.

  • Kodiak

    T. Hartin,

    “(…) note that the US outperforms France on every front”

    Not so, dear T. Hartin.

    France’s GDP per hour worked is 3,3 % higher than the US one.
    Between 1950 & 1973, French productivity gains (growth of the GDP per hour worked) grew 2 times faster than US ones.
    Between 1973 & 1999, French productivity gains (growth of the GDP per hour worked) grew 2,4 times faster than US ones.

    That’s not exactly what I’d call “outperformed”…


    “(…) the relatively poor performance of the UK may have a lot to do with the fact that the UK labors under some of the same socialist policies that infest the Continent”

    The absolutely poor performance of the UK cannot be linked to “socialism” to the extent that any of the 3, the UK, France & Germany, were equally “infested” by “socialism”.


    Although the following figures are bit old (1995), they illustrate how efficient the French industry is compared with the industrial remainings that can be found in the UK:

    GDP per working people, using PPP (purchasing power parity): France = 100 (1995)
    Germany = 79
    UK = 77.

    Industrial workforce cost: France = 100 (1995)
    Germany = 165
    UK = 71.


    More recent figures (UK = 100).
    Output per hour worked:

    France 144 (1991) – 129 (1996) – 129 (2001)
    Germany 122 (1991) – 125 (1996) – 127 (2001)
    Japan 97 (1991) – 97 (1996) – 91 (2000)
    USA 138 (1991) – 128 (1996) – 129 (2001)
    G7 123 (1991) – 119 (1996) – 117 (2000)
    G7-UK 125 (1991) – 120 (1996) – 119 (2000)

    The UK has a problem with productivity in particular, that is work efficiency in general.

    This has nothing to do with political orientations (left or right). This has to do with poor standards in work efficency.

    Note also that France outperforms the USA & is well ahead compared to the rest of the G7.

  • Kodiak

    More figures related to some clichés:

    Workdays lost further to strikes per 1.000 staff (annual average for 1998 until 2001, in days):

    Denmark 462
    Spain 173
    Norway 95
    Ireland 83
    Italy 39
    France 37
    UK 15
    The Netherlands 6
    Germany 1


    A quote by Jean-Cyril Spinetta, Head of AirFrance:

    “Quand je nous regarde, je me désole. Quand je vois les autres, je me console”.

    In English: “I feel sorry when I look at home. But I find great comfort when I look at our neighbours”.

  • Scott


    If you have access, you might also check days lost to ‘sickness.’ I read recently (I believe in the New York Times) that in Sweden, approximately 1 in 6 workers is out ‘sick’ on any given day.

    I think the FR economy is much more agile than the Nordic systems, which overly rely on guest workers (care to draw any allusions to somewhere else). However, the state (i.e. public sector) is too big.

    As for immigration and rising fertility helping a future France, well, that is just what was suggested by the report. The problem with relying on rising fertility is that it goes against trend. Immigration is great, except from what I can see, the most recent sets of immigrants to France are not assimilating well as Frenchmen.

  • Kodiak


    1/ Average annual hours worked per employee in 2000 (hours lost to sickness, strike & bank holidays are taken into account):

    Switzerland 1856
    USA 1824
    UK 1785
    France 1780
    Italy 1746
    Belgium 1740
    Germany 1683
    The Netherlands 1652

    Haven’t found the figures for Sweden.


    2/ “(…) the (FRENCH) state (i.e. public sector) is too big”

    Too big compared to what?
    How do you measure State size?
    Even if you could, are you sure you don’t forget the most relevant dimension: the kind of Society people want >>> micro State or powerful State.


    3/ ” (…) the most recent sets of immigrants to France are not assimilating well as Frenchmen”

    French people don’t have to be assimilated (to what?): they’re French citizens.

    As for “the most recent sets of immigrants” they are indeed not very well assimilated, by mere definition.
    What you’re saying is a tautology.
    What was the point?

  • Kodiak,

    More completely fabricated statistics from UNESCO?

  • Kodiak


    More deliciously sophisticated answers from Samizdata?