August 10, 2004


The grass is not greener (Bruce Bartlett, August 10, 2004, Townhall)

Europeans are frustrated. They have been behind the United States economically for years and thought this was due to lack of economic integration. So they created the European Union, with a common currency and virtually free mobility of goods, capital and labor throughout the continent. Yet Europe continues to lag.

A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the United States with real gross domestic product per person in 2003 of $34,960 (in 1999 dollars). This is well above every European country. The most productive European country, Norway, has a per capita GDP of just $30,882 (converted using purchasing power parity exchange rates). The major countries of Europe are even further behind: United Kingdom ($26,039), France ($25,578), Italy ($24,894) and Germany ($24,813).

In other words, Europeans produce no more per year than Americans did 20 years ago. And they are not catching up. According to the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, the productivity gap between the United States and Europe is actually widening. In the Euro area as a whole, workers were 86 percent as productive as American workers in 1995. In 2003, this fell to 84 percent.

As a consequence, living standards are much lower in Europe than most Americans imagine. This fact is highlighted in a new study by the Swedish think tank Timbro. For example, it notes that the average poor family here has 25 percent more living space than the average European. Looking at all American households, we have about twice as much space: 1,875 square feet here versus 976.5 square feet in Europe. On average, Europeans only live about as well as those in the poorest American state, Mississippi.

In fact, union will be detrimental, not beneficial.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 10, 2004 11:28 AM

This should be thrown into an RNC campaign ad.

"It's no secret John Kerry and the Democrats want us to be more like Europe.... the stats in this article...

..The US more like Europe? Why would we want to do that. Vote Republican this Nov.

That's a wrap.

Posted by: BB at August 10, 2004 12:22 PM

They do wear nice clothes though.

Posted by: genecis at August 10, 2004 1:44 PM

I remember this grad student from Germany during my grad students days (around the time of the first phase of the Gulf War). He went on and on about exactly this (all those years ago!) with the point being that the USA couldn't expect Europe to kick in as much money for the war because they were poor.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at August 10, 2004 1:51 PM

"On average, Europeans only live about as well as those in the poorest American state, Mississippi."

I've been to Europe, and I've been to MS. Many of these numbers may be apt, but this comparison is not.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at August 10, 2004 2:03 PM

Why is it that not of the Scientismists around here believe objective numbers, only their own eyes, except where evolution is concerned, of course...

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 2:07 PM

And oj kicks off-topic into evolution-bashing again...

Posted by: Ken at August 10, 2004 3:49 PM

That is the topic--it's why Europe is declining.

Posted by: oj at August 10, 2004 4:00 PM