NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The European Juggernaut

June 17, 2003

Which economy has performed better in recent years -- Europe's or America's? Surprise: According to the International Monetary Fund, Europe's has.

  • Over the past three years, living standards, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) per person, have risen by 5.8 percent in the European Union but by only 1 percent in the United States.
  • While living standards in the United States have risen by a healthy 16.1 percent over the past eight years, they are up by 18.3 percent in the European Union.
  • Pick any year between 1995 and 2000 as a starting point, and the conclusion is the same: Europe's economy has outperformed America's.

According to the Conference Board, a New York-based business-research group:

  • Although the average U.S. labor-productivity growth of 1.9 percent per year since 1995 exceeds the EU average of 1.3 percent, five individual European countries have done better than the United States.
  • Belgium managed 2.2 percent per year, Austria 2.4 percent, Finland 2.6 percent, Greece 3.2 percent and Ireland 5.1 percent.

If you take a longer time span, 1990 to 2002, not only does the European Union as a whole outpace the United States, so do 10 of the 14 individual EU member states for which statistics are available (the figures do not include Luxembourg).

Source: Philippe Legrain, "Juggernaut: Europe's Mighty Economy," New Republic, June 16, 2003.


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