Krugman’s blog, 11/7/15

There was one post on Saturday, “Cheese-Eating Job Creators:”

It’s been obvious for a while that Jeb! is toast. Last week, however, he became French toast: after making a crack about French work weeks that was completely wrong, he … apologized for the mistake. Fool! As National Review made clear, real men don’t admit to, let alone apologize for, errors:

Apologizing to the French will not score Bush any points with the GOP primary electorate. It may show he is a gentleman, but it also shows he lacks the killer instinct of his father and brother when they ran for president.

Hey, look at Ben Carson.

But in truth the French deserve an apology from a lot of American politicians and commentators. If you think that France is a nation where everyone is either lazy or unemployed, compared with hard-working America, you’re not just repeating a caricature, you’re repeating a caricature that’s many years out of date. The French do take more vacations than we do; but in their prime working years, they’re a lot more likely to be employed than we are:


OECD

Whenever I mention this fact, I get mail from people insisting that I must be wrong and demanding a correction. Even well-informed commentators seem to be underinformed on this point; for example, Justin Fox, while not wrong in what he says here, doesn’t seem aware that lower French overall labor force participation is entirely the result of early retirement and lower employment among the young — which in turn partly reflects students not having to work in college.

Of course, French employment success isn’t what is supposed to happen in a generous welfare state. And to be fair, the chart above may be as much a reflection of American failure as it is of French success. Still, people should know that their image of France, and Europe in general, is really, really wrong.

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