“Arrêtons le France-Bashing!”

That was the headline of an article by Philippe Askenazy in Le Monde on January 21. He is research director at the National Centre for Scientific Research.

“France has one of the most flexible job markets. It has introduced contract termination by mutual assent…. Around 1.8 million job contracts and just as many terminations are signed each month. We never stop hearing about record unemployment. But in fact the level is remarkably low.

“The jobless rate is lower than it was in 1997, and at the same level as it was at the start of 1999 after five years of growth. So the satisfaction of seeing the French public debt financed and re-financed at historically low levels is just the tip of the iceberg of a France that is entirely solid in the European macro-economic context. Of course, not everything’s perfect. But hope is justified provided Europe manages to free itself from the straitjacket of austerity.”


3 responses to ““Arrêtons le France-Bashing!”

  1. I have always been conflicted by the critiques of France for its structural rigidities. Michael Moore’s “expose” of their health care system hit a chord. Americans can not envy the French, even when the should. However, there are two, if not three economies of “France”.
    1. A Baby boomer established French indeterminate employee with full access to the benefits of the State.
    2. The “pure laine” French university grad seeking meaningful employment.
    3. The one quarter+ of the population of visible minorities and/or where French is their imperfect second language still largely relegated to economic ghettos.
    From what I understand category two has a “faint hope” but category three continues to have no hope.
    We can measure some of this in Canadian immigration numbers.

    • How is this measured in Canadian immigration numbers, Henry? Are we attracting immigrants of category three? I would not have thought they would qualify for entry here. Maybe some of category two?
      Americans I think resent the success of so much of French society despite their not conforming to American values – they take very long vacations, they have nice weather, they have good food and wine, they have excellent and largely publicly financed health care, and they don’t kowtow to the USA.

  2. In reply to John G;

    You will not get a full picture by country and education/language, from the published data, but I believe that Panorama splits it off by region of origin. Check it out on the web (2011 numbers are avail I believe), but my sense is that over past decade or so, a large share of our immigrants from Europe were Category two and three above, and recent arrivals from developing world that never intended to settle long term in Europe. Many in category three have education and language skills. To be blunt, we are less hung up on colour and accent. Eh! Category two include the highly skilled professionals that are coveted by most immigrant receiving countries. This is where you will find the most visible reverse brain drain. Not to say that a category three immigrant won’t be the next Canadian Nobel Prize Winner.

    Sugar Sammy is my Canadian immigrant hero success story, but if he gets a Nobel, it would be in Literature.

    Did you know Canada is number 1 on the planet in world class humourists per capita! Is there a link to our lifespan advantage?

    Immigrants are listed in country they registered for immigration to Canada.

    Up to early 70’s, category one was the dominant group of our immigration to Canada from Europe, especially from Mediteranean countries, but after the EU grew from 6 to 12 to 18…. The biggest group of immigrants to return to their homeland were Italians!