Saturday, April 28, 2007

The French Economy

On the heels of the recent reports of the French hating themselves even more than USians do, I followed a number of links and found this article on France by Donald Luskin at National Review Online. It is over a year old, but still has some very interesting facts in it. Here are some of the choicer bits:

[French] Average real GDP growth since 1991 has been 1.8% per year, compared to 3.1% for the United States. Its GDP per capita is lower than all but the poorest four U.S. states—lower even than Alabama, a state Krugman nastily described the week before last as being populated by people too poorly educated to work in automobile factories."
. . .
A report by the European consulting firm Timbro that found that total private consumption per capita in France is about half that of the U.S. The average French family has a lower standard of living than Americans living below the poverty level. Impoverished Americans have 16% more dwelling space per capita than the average French; the American poor are more likely to have a car, a dishwasher, a microwave oven, a personal computer, and a clothes drier.
. . .
I seem to remember something from about two years ago, when about 15,000 elderly people in France died in a heat wave. That's more than five times as many as were killed in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. And why did it happen? In part, because most French households are too poor to afford air conditioners. But more importantly, those people died because so many doctors were on vacation.

I dislike the French for any number of reasons, be it their history of cutting off heads as public entertainment and public policy, their over-rated wines, or the fact that I am fantastically proud that my family descends from the English, traditional rivals of the continentals. That they continue, however, to fall into a pit of economic stagnation and societal collapse shouldn't fill me with this much joy. It just shouldn't.


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