French economics

by on April 9, 2006 at 12:43 am in Current Affairs, Economics | Permalink

Earlier I wrote that French students need more Bastiat and less Foucault.  Supporting evidence is provided by The International Herald Tribune which notes:

In a 22-country survey published in January, France was the only nation
disagreeing with the premise that the best system is "the free-market
economy." In the poll, conducted by the University of Maryland, only 36
percent of French respondents agreed, compared with 65 percent in
Germany, 66 percent in Britain, 71 percent in the United States and 74
percent in China
(!, AT)….

"The question of how economics is taught in France, both at the bottom
and at the top of the educational pyramid, is at the heart of the
current crisis," said Jean-Pierre Boisivon, director of the Enterprise
Institute…

"In France we are still stuck in 1970s Keynesian-style economics – we
live in the world of 30 years ago," he said. …

And then there are the textbooks. One, published by Nathan and widely
used by final-year students, has this to say on p. 137: "One must
analyze the salary as purchasing power that you could not cut without
sparking a deflationary spiral and thus higher unemployment." Another
popular textbook, published by La Découverte, asks on p. 164: "Are
there still enough jobs for everyone?" It then suggests that the state
subsidize jobs in the public sector: "We can seriously envisage this
because our economy allows us already to support a large number of
unemployed people."

These arguments were frequently used on the streets in recent weeks,
where many protesters said raising salaries and subsidizing work was a
better way to cut joblessness than flexibility.

Hat tip to Peter Gordon who is teaching in Paris but finds his students considerably more sophisticated.

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