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The unemployment problem varies considerably between, and even within, European countries.

At the continental level, the "Big 4" countries - France, Germany, Italy, Spain - all have high unemployment rates in the range of 9 to 10 percent or more.

Smaller economies - Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland - have much lower unemployment rates, typically around 5%, as good or better than the US. These countries all have extensive welfare states and social protections, which is one reason why you can't just point to labor market "overregulation" or welfare states "run amok" as the sole cause of Europe's economic problems.

Going back to the big 4, where most of Europe's unemployment problem exists, even there conditions can vary within countries. In Italy, for example, the underdeveloped south has unemployment rates on the order of 20%, while the industrialized north does much better (5% or so unemployment). In Germany, the ex-communist east has an unemployment rate above 20%, while the west's is a more reasonable but still high 8% or so.

by TGeraghty on Tue Jun 21st, 2005 at 04:42:43 PM EST
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