The European Welfare State

Gross public social expenditures in the European Union increased from 16 percent of gross domestic product in 1980 to 21 percent in 2005, compared with 15.9 percent in the United States. In France, the figure now is 31 percent, the highest in Europe, with state pensions making up more than 44 percent of the total and health care, 30 percent… In Sweden and Switzerland, 7 of 10 people work past 50. In France, only half do.

Full article on the threatened sustainability of the European social model.

Comments (7)

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  1. Tom H. says:

    Just give us time. We’re doing our best to catch up with the Europeans.

  2. Devon Herrick says:

    A hundred years ago, Argentina was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Now we think of them as a developing country. Can you really refer to a country as “developing” if its economic development stagnated or regressed?

    In another hundred years people may wonder what caused European countries, the United States and Canada to fall from the most advanced economies to less prosperous than Asia. I just hope they correctly identify the problem as opportunistic politicians, activist governments and short-sighted policies that promised more benefits and income transfers than society could deliver.

  3. Vicki says:

    I agree with Tom. Move over France, we’re catching up with you.

  4. Bruce says:

    When Obama gets through, the American labor market is going to look just like the European labor markets.

  5. Don Levit says:

    For many years, the “surplus” in Social Security and Medicare has masked the true deficit.
    With surpluses starting to dwindle, the deficit will be more negatively impacted.
    Doing nothing to address this “time bomb” has been foolish, in my opinion.
    From a paer entitled “Social Security and the Public Debt,” Written by James Duggan of the Treasury way back in 1991:
    P. 20 “Of more concern is the rate of increase in the debt ratio following the inception of annual Social Xecurity deficits.”
    P. 26 “The central conclusion is that, under current Social Security law, projected Social Security deficuts could result in a very high and unstable debt/GNP ratio in the next century unless extraordinary fiscal restraint is exercised.
    Any adjustments could be disruptive if implementation is deferred until Social Security deficits begin.”
    Don Levit

  6. Virginia says:

    About Don’s Post:

    The only problem I see with statements like that (the one mentioned in the Treasury paper) is that the consequences don’t happen fast enough for people to really make the connection. But, if Europe sees the decline that this article suggests, i would bet there will still be people saying, “If only we had more support for the poor in our country, if only we were more concerned about our community than capitalistic greed, we might have avoided this.”

  7. Don Levit says:

    I agree that we have to institute boundaries, individually and collectively, that we will not cross.
    I believe the entitlement programs of Social Security and Medicare have crossed those boundaries, particularly in the ways they have been financed – through debt.
    Can you imagine borrowing IOUs?
    How can one logically and morally borrow debt?
    There are going to be financial consequences for our irresponsible behavior.
    Unfortunately, very few of us will be spared from the effects, whether they are direct hits or residual effects.
    Almost all will have to sacrifice financially, for our individual and collective benefits.
    As what happens in Greece effects the stock market; so too, pockets of financial despair are deeper and wider than we can imagine.
    Don Levit