The Right Coast

November 08, 2005
Krugman on the French
By Tom Smith

Krugman actually has a point here. But it's combined with a lot of dumb stuff. For example, of course, duh, you can have higher productivity per hour worked if you work a lot less hours. It's that old declining marginal productivity of any given input thing. So if the French produce as much in their 21st hour as we do in our 45th, that is no huge surprise. In fact, it's kinda irrelevant. If you work 12 hours a day and I work 5, it doesn't say much for me if either my average hour or my 5th hour is more productive than your average hour or your 12th hour respectively.

Next, I think France is rather notorious for having few opportunities for educated young people, let alone uneducated ones. The "four points higher of unemployent" is a lot. Eight percent is twice the unemployment of four percent, 100 percent more.

Why do Americans work so hard? Because they have to, because the government takes so much of their money. You don't need some fancy game theory explanation, which Krugman seems to be hinting at for France; the state helps people solve a coordination problem or something. If Krugman is so concerned about quality time with the little screamers, he should cut taxes so people didn't have to work overtime to pay for the braces. (Which I'm guessing you want to get in the US, whatever Krugman says.) I'm not holding my breath. What's more important, families, or being right?