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October 9, 2004

Jumping Continentals

Commenting to a post about same-sex marriage that's just about to fall off my main index, Jon Rowe suggested that:

Europe, in attempting to keep up with US economic might, has been moving in the direction of greater market-friendliness every since the Thacher revolution -- which spread throughout most of the other Western European nations -- and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Culturally, I think Europe is wonderful. I spent a summer in Rome in 2001. What a wonderful city. And Italy epitomizes the affluent Eurpean nation with a low birth rate. That place was jumpin -- a truly vibrant culture -- the exact opposite of "dead."

Much of the subsequent discussion questioned what constitutes "a truly vibrant culture." Personally, I can envision many ways in which a country that is either rapidly burying itself or reacting to acute fatalism would seem extremely vibrant to an outsider. Hyperbole: You've got twenty-four hours to live; will you be lethargic?

On the first paragraph, however, nobody noted that part of "market-friendliness" requires social policies that get people to work and ensure that there are people to work. (And again, both childlessness and a diminished work schedule would seem likely to increase perceived vibrancy, according to some definitions.) On that count, a piece to which Glenn Reynolds linked seems relevant:

Only by working longer and moving towards the US social model can Europe hope to attain its Lisbon goals, according to Laurens Jan Brinkhorst, Dutch Minister of Economy, speaking at an event in Brussels on 7 October.

Modernising the European social model is a matter of urgency if Europe wants to maintain its model of choice in the long term and close the productivity gap with the US, believes the minister.

'I will argue that the updated European social model should differ distinctly from the current one' explained Mr Brinkhorst. 'It will inevitably resemble the US model more than is the case today. But it will still be a European model, reflecting European preferences for social inclusion and environment. The main conditions for achieving this are enhancing growth and employability,' he said.

Posted by Justin Katz at October 9, 2004 12:52 AM
International Affairs