NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 3, 2005

No one knows for sure to what extent economic anxiety influenced the decisive "Non!" by French and Dutch voters against the new European Union Constitution this week. But one thing is certain: the French and much of the rest of the European Union have much to be economically anxious about, says the Wall Street Journal.

  • The French unemployment rate has hovered around 10 percent for nearly a decade, and almost half of the jobless have been out of work for at least a year.
  • If the United States had an unemployment rate as high as France, there would be about six million more non-working Americans -- the equivalent of placing every worker in Michigan on the jobless rolls.

In contrast, the United States has substantially outperformed Old Europe in wealth and job creation:

  • The economic growth rate of the European Union nations since 2003 has limped along at about half that of the United States.
  • In the 1980s and '90s the United States created about 40 million new jobs; Western Europe created some 10 million, well over half of which were in the public sector.
  • If this divergence in economic performance continues for 40 years, the American worker will be roughly twice as wealthy as his European counterpart.

The Europeans have created a vast constellation of domestic policy interventions that are cloaked in the seductive rhetoric of compassion, fairness and cultural sophistication. In sum, European nations penalize work and subsidize nonwork, and no surprise, they have gotten a lot of the latter and far too little of the former. By contrast, the U.S. model -- allegedly cruel and "laissez-faire" -- has done much better both by economic growth and worker opportunity, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "The European Disease," Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2005.

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