Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Last year, Yann Algan and Pierre Cahuc attracted a good deal of attention by diagnosing France as a "society of distrust." An endemic lack of trust, which they claimed to have measured empirically, was, in their view, blocking progress toward necessary reform of the French social model. Now Eloi Laurent has produced an important and persuasive critique of the Algan-Cahuc thesis. You can read his analysis here. Highly recommended. (For additional comment on the Algan-Cahuc thesis, see these earlier posts.)


Anonymous said...

On a more mundane level, this is something I've often wondered about. It seems that for many French, one of the greatest pleasures in life is not to be had or to be hoodwinked.
Here are some quotes I've heard oh so many times: "Je ne me suis pas laissé faire" or "Ne te fais pas avoir". As if everyone from the Ministry of Finance down to the salesclerk at Auchan was conspiring against me.
But as for the difficulty of reforming, I've another idea - perhaps just as profound as my other coffee-table thoughts - and that is the way French view "debate". Whenever I've been asked to help someone choose something or for advice on something my suggestions have been met - oh so many times - with severe critiques. Totally cut to pieces. Thrown out like a rag. And then a sort of compromise, watered-down version will be adopted - but its inadequacies are wholly due to my paltry attempt at providing advice.
Now, extrapolated to the mega-dimension of French politics, indeed to the arguably existing mandate accorded to Sarkozy to "do" something about the problems hampering France, well it is problematic to say the least. Everybody's a critic. And a severe one at that. But they invariably accept a bitter pill going away with a grumpy face.

Chris P.

MYOS said...

extremely ineresting - thanks.