15 May 2008

“Baby-Losers”

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The Guardian describes how Europe’s intensely regulated employment policies are resulting in a generation of losers.

With inflation soaring, property prices sky high, wages relatively static, labour markets gridlocked and sluggish or slowing economies, ..tens of millions of Europeans raised to expect that their degrees and diplomas will assure them a relatively high quality of life.. are now realising that the world has changed. The disappointment is a shock with big political, social, cultural, even demographic consequences. …

In 1973, only 6 per cent of recent university leavers in France were unemployed; now the rate is 25 to 30 per cent; salaries have stagnated for 20 years while property prices have doubled or trebled, though the overall proportion of French people living in poverty has not changed. Whereas in the 1960s the poor were mainly the old, now they are the young; in 1970, salaries for 50-year-olds were only 15 per cent higher than those for workers of 30; the gap now is 40 per cent.

‘Some talk of a war between the generations, but that’s a little simplistic. It is more that the system means that the haves are keeping what they have and no one is helping the have-nots,’ said Chauvel. ‘The big determinant in France now of success is not your educational level but the wealth of your parents, if they can support you during your twenties as you fight your way into a closed employment market.’

French economists speak of ‘insiders and outsiders’. The insiders are those who already have a job and are well-defended by the battery of French laws protecting the workforce and the unions. The outsiders are those without work which, naturally, include newcomers on the job market. Chauvel says the problem is particularly bad in Latin countries where parents are expected to support their children much longer.

But, cheer up, Europe! we have a political party right here in the United States firmly committed to bringing us European-style labor market regulations, too. They call themselves democrats, and they are favored to win in November.

H/t to MeaninglessHotAir.

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