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It is dangerous to take United States employment data at face value.

It may also be dangerous to take French employment data at face value as well.  I asked a French friend of mine what she thought about the CPE debate and the comparative employment numbers among youth in various countries.  Her reply was:

Vrais chômeurs, faux étudiants...
On pourrait aussi ajouter aux jeunes chômeurs inscrits à l'ANPE ceux qui ne
le sont pas :
1) Parce qu'ils n'ont jamais travaillé et donc n'ont pas droit aux
allocations-chômage
2) Parce qu'ils s'inscrivent pour la 5e fois en 2e année de Deug de psycho
parce qu'ils savent qu'ils ne trouveront pas de travail.
Je pense qu'on obtiendrait un total supérieur bien supérieur aux 22% (ou
30%) officiels !

[Roughly:]
Fake students, but actually unemployed...
You could also add to the number of unemployed youth who are registered at the ANPE [Agence nationale pour l'emploi (I am guessing that would be France's equivalent to the U.S. Department of Labor)] those who are not registered because:

  1. they have never worked before and so are not eligible for unemployment benefits
  2. they reenroll for the 5th time in the second year psychology because they know that they won't find any work (I guess "Deug" is some mainstream college level track, though I am not sure... I should read up on that "Grandes Ecoles" thread).
I think you would come up with a total that is much higher than the official 22% (or 30%)!

I don't know if 1) is true, and even if it were, would it add many more people to the number of unemployed?  Perhaps those are part of the "Autres inactifs (ni scolarisés, ni inscrits a l'ANPE)" in the graph from Jerome's post.

But what's not clear to me yet is how serious the low employment rate of the young is. Is it just because they are studying and do not need to work while studying, because it's free? Or is it that they are studying long than they'd want because they cannot find work?

My friend's second point indicates that it is not altogether unrealistic that a significant number of French youths do indeed stay in school simply because they are so pessimistic about their job prospects.  (Incidentally, is it really true that you can keep enrolling over and over in school, at no extra cost, even after you have done so far more than the average?  Do you have to intentionally fail your courses in order to be reaccepted?  I wonder if she is not talking about an extremely small percentage of students.)

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

by marco on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 07:40:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a significant number of French youths do indeed stay in school simply because they are so pessimistic about their job prospects
It is also the case in the US that, when there is an economic downturn, young people just go to grad school, and take student loans which accrue no interest while you're a student, you only have to pay once you're employed, and sometimes get bought out by the government (for instance, if you choose to become a high school teacher when there's a shortage, as was the case in California recently).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 07:52:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
About 1), the important point is that the official job agency, the ANPE, is a walking catastrophe, and, if a government were serious about dealing with unemployment (which undoubtedly is a problem in France, no one here is denying that), it would completely shake up and redefine the tasks of that agency. However, if a young person is looking for a job, they will sign up there even if they don't have a right to benefits, since the ANPE gives you official job-seeker status and may open the way to vocational training programmes. Some may not bother, but I don't know if the number would be all that significant.

On people not included in the workforce (and not in school), I think the largest group is composed of women bringing up a child or children. See Alexandra in Wmass's diary Graphic statistics for a useful graph.

Someone else will have to answer about 2), whether you can go on for years signing up for the same course at college, though I suspect it's not that easy to do. This is not to say there are not young French choosing to do further courses and diplomas because they feel their job chances are slim, far from it. Mostly, I think they are in fact trying to get the diploma, not flunk out to waste time.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Mar 28th, 2006 at 09:22:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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