Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Jerome, I have been reading your posts about the CPE, and I admit that many of the facts and figures you provide are slowly weaning me off the kool-aid and turning me back to jus de cassis.

In particular, I was surprised to see that much data supporting the positive effects on growth and jobs that the Jospin 5-year "emplois jeunes" plans and the 35-year work week may have had in the 1999-2003 period (e.g. the OECD graphs in French employment and unemployment, the graph in Private sector job growth, your tidbit, the statistics you cited from Couvrat's article, and these two graphs, which like Agnes, I appreciated for their succinctness. ;-)  )

Having said that, I am far less persuaded by one point/figure you keep on bringing up, namely that

the active young population is very small in France, thus making the unemployment rate (the ratio of the number of unemployed to the active population) high despite the fact that the ratio of unemployed to the overall youth population is not markedly different than in other countries (right column below).

which you support must emphatically with the figures in Less than 8% of French youth unemployed!.

I may be missing something fundamental here, but arguing that things are not that bad for young French people because only 8% of them are unemployed, when 60% of them are in school, does not reassure me that the situation is not bad.

On the contrary, I think the relevant figure is not the 8% proportion de jeunes au chomage, but rather the 22.6% unemployment rate.  And the reason is, if I am finishing my studies in France and I am under 25, it wouldn't really make me feel better to know that only 1 out of 5 of my peers (i.e. young people who want to work now) actually has a job.  As far as I am concerned, the 60% of my age group that are still in school are irrelevant.  In fact, it would be very easy to reason that the reason so many young people are in school (I assume even after 22 years old), is that they are pessimistic about being able to find a job (though I am totally open to being corrected on this point.)

At any rate, I looked at the numbers for the U.S in 2005.  The percentage of active youth in the U.S. is 66.2%, versus 34.5% in France.  Furthermore, the unemployment rate among active youth under 25 years of age in the U.S. was 11.3%, exactly half of the percentage in France.  These figures indicate pretty starkly to me two things:

(1) A larger of those that want to work actually can find work.

(2) And a larger percentage of young people choose to work earlier in the U.S. than in France

Is it not reasonable to suspect that perhaps (2) is true because of (1)?

Let me repeat that I find much, if not most of the other points you make about the French system (of which I know very little) quite persuasive.  But this point has been a stickler for me every time you repeated it, and finally I just had to bring it up!


Point n'est besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre, ni de réussir pour persévérer. - Charles le Téméraire

by marco on Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 11:22:41 PM EST

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