Friday, January 28, 2011

Krugman Compares France and the US

Paul Krugman:

So, here are some ratios of France to the United States:
GDP per capita: 0.731
GDP per hour worked: 0.988
Employment as a share of population: 0.837
Hours per worker: 0.884
So French workers are roughly as productive as US workers. But fewer Frenchmen and women are working, and when they work, they work fewer hours.
Why are fewer Frenchmen working? As I’ve pointed out, during prime working years they’re as likely to work as Americans. But fewer young people work (in part because of more generous college aid); and, mainly, the French retire earlier. The latter is arguably the result of misguided policies: Mitterand made early retirement alarmingly attractive. But it’s not a problem of weak productivity or mass unemployment.
And why do the French work shorter hours? Probably for the most part because of government policies mandating vacation time.
The bottom line is that France is a society with the same level of technology and productivity as the US, but one that has made different choices about retirement and leisure. Vive la difference!

Change of Tune

"Dog bites man" is not news, goes the old saying. "Villepin attacks Sarkozy" has also ceased to be news, so Villepin has adjusted: henceforth he will develop his "program."

Gay Science

Marine Le Pen, social liberal? Not so much, at least when it comes to gay marriage. The PACS is "super," says Marine Le Pen, especially since 95% of the time it is used by straight couples rather than gays. But she is "totally opposed" to gay marriage. In fact, she goes further: gay organizations don't speak for the majority of gays, she says, most of whom don't want gay marriage. (MLP speaking for gays: a definition of chutzpah.)

So, has the FN evolved? Well, approval of the PACS certainly doesn't connote hidebound traditionalism. Is it progress for the far right to support cohabitation, or concubinage, to use a French word that has a rather disagreeably archaic ring in English? Or is it just electoralism, since so many people nowadays avail themselves of civil unions? Or--third possibility--is it just that religion and right-wing politics don't intersect in France in the same way as in the United States? Marine Le Pen will say a lot of things, but the sentence "marriage is for one man and one woman" is not one that is likely to leave her lips. In the French context it has no constituency, except perhaps for Christine Boutin's. Gay-bashing, on the other hand, is alive and well, but in the UMP rather than the FN: after Christian Vanneste, we have Jacques Myard, député UMP:

"Pas du tout, j'ai dit ceci ; on me dit qu'il faut prendre en compte l'homosexualité parce qu'elle existe. J'ai dit qu'à ce moment-là, toutes les perversions sexuelles… Le zoophile existe, vous allez le prendre en compte ?"