Is it America or Europe which is overrated?

by on August 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm in Travel | Permalink

Bryan says Europe is overrated and here is one excerpt from a lengthy post:

…almost no one in Europe lives in places as comfortable and convenient as American suburbs: The houses are spacious, the cars are huge, cheap Big Box stores and chain restaurants are nearby, and (to quote South Park) there's "ample parking day or night.

Bryan suggests that American tourists like Europe so much because they are visiting it with U.S. incomes.  I am not sure which PPP calculation he is using but I disagree at a more fundamental level.  Bryan gives some good reasons why America is better for 37-year-olds with young children, namely lots of living space and easy shopping.  But I view much of Western Europe as better for the elderly, if only because it requires less driving and they are more likely to live close to their children and perhaps also they receive more respect.  Western Europe is probably better for children too, for reasons related to safety and health care.

My alternative view is that Americans rate European life so highly (in part) because the buildings from previous eras are so striking and attractive.  If all of the U.S. looked like U.S. postwar construction, the country would still impress more or less as it does.  If all of Europe looked like its postwar construction, Americans would be less likely to admire European policies and political institutions.  Yes I know about Lille, and contemporary Spanish architecture, but in reality most Americans would think of Europe as some kind of dump.

Addendum: Megan McArdle comments.

KK slider August 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm

I can’t trust someone who points to America’s many suburban and exurban hell holes as a sign of prosperity, and backs it up by pointing at Hummers, SUVs, and Walmarts as a sign of a great life.

charlie August 24, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Quality of life is much higher in high income American suburbs. We have bigger houses, and better appliances for most middle class families Europe would be better (health care, college). What I still don’t understand is why Europeans children and pre-teens are much nicer than Americans.

James August 24, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I’m surprised no one has mentioned obesity. America is much fatter than Europe, and those much vaunted American suburbs are more likely to contain fat people than those crowded cities.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3062-2004May30.html

So maybe it isn’t the buildings, but the people that makes Europe so attractive. So thin…

Taeyoung August 24, 2009 at 1:20 pm

What I still don’t understand is why Europeans children and pre-teens are much nicer than Americans.

Are they perhaps disciplined and punished more effectively by society when they are naughty? I recall that one incident where Francois Bayrou slapped that child automatically, as if by reflex — unthinkable here in the US.

Josh August 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Also, Europe seems to practice better family planning than the US which may produce better behaving offspring.

josh August 24, 2009 at 1:33 pm

The modern suburb is the result of a mass exodus of people chased out of urban centers by criminals. They are not a sign of prosperity or comfort. They are a sign of bad government.

Seward August 24, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I would note that “sprawl” and suburbanization are happening in Western Europe at just a somewhat less rapid pace as they are happening in the U.S. Furthermore, historically whereever you have had prosperity you have had “sprawl.” These days of course the plebians now are wealthy enough to afford it as Cato and Cicero did.

As for healthcare, what many European countries have is universal health insurance, that is not the same thing as universal health care.

fusion,

I suspect that Europeans on average believe in dousing, UFOs, ghosts, ESP, etc. at roughly the same level as Americans do. And we all know about the anti-scientific opposition against GMOs in Europe (so much so that from time to time groups of people attack GMO research facilities). I also suspect that both populations are about as aware of what their governments are doing. Europeans are not on average any more informed, intelligent, etc. than Americans are. Of course more Europeans apparently accept evolution as the best explanation for the development of life (as I do), but ask them what speciation or punctuated evolution are and most would likely they would draw a blank. It boils largely to what is “right” to think, not an educated position on the matter.

Current August 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm

As I said in a post on Econlog…. What attracts American’s to Europe is that the laws force people to act in ways that conform to middle-class prejudices.

Middle-class prejudices have it that chains are bad, on little evidence. The same with suburbs and large supermarkets. By preventing those things from coming into being they make their nations appear more worthy.

Derek Lowe August 24, 2009 at 1:46 pm

I see that this comment thread has become yet another excuse for more “vacuous soul-destroying suburbs” rants. I actually *like* working in the garden, seeing wildlife in the back yard, and hearing owls at night when I take the telescope out.

As for post-war European architecture, Tyler’s point also occurred to me when I lived in Germany. The apartment buildings were really hideous.

Joe Teicher August 24, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I really don’t get all the suburb bashing. To anyone who hates the suburbs, what exactly do you consume as a city-dweller that would be much less convenient for an equivalent income suburbanite who lives say 20 miles outside the city where you live?

In my experience, anything that I would like to eat or buy or do often is equally available in Naperville, IL (and surrounding towns) than in Chicago, IL. And the stuff that I want to do rarely (eat at tru, see a musical, etc.) is an hour drive away so what’s the difference?

Seward August 24, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Michael Foody,

Europeans are more multi-lingual in the sense that they know their native tongues and the current lingua franca, English. Or such is my impression. Since Americans already know English there is far less utility involved in learning another tongue. That situation might change.

Anyway, I really don’t accept the whole notion that we can say which area is better because people vary in their subjective attitudes.

JB August 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm

1. Attacking suburbs and chain restaurants and praising city-life are ways of signaling status among educated people in the U.S.
2. Suburbs and chain restaurants really do suck, all things considered, compared to cities, and only a low-status would think otherwise.

Does 1 or 2 do a better job explaining the comments in this thread?

Steve C. August 24, 2009 at 2:06 pm

If you like high taxes and social control, then Europe is the place for you.

Having lived there for 4 years a few random observations. (dated somewhat as it was the 80s)

1. A single family home is a luxury. Most homes under construction were actually being built by the eventual occupants and their friends in a sort of Habitat for Humanity co-operative means. Contractors would be hired for specialized work but the dumb labor, such as laying cinder blocks and interior finishing were done in free time by the owners. And mortgages were generally 40 years or more. Most homes were 3 or 4 family units the intent being to house grandma and grandpa and rent out the empties until junior was married.

2. The countryside, which is in many cases quite bucolic, is filled with small farms. And they are small, a dozen acres or less. How can they do it? Easy, government subsidies for agriculture. I learned to love Danish butter, easily 50% cheaper than US butter.

3. At the time gasoline cost 4X what it cost in the US. It’s not surprising that FIATS, DAFs and VWs were popular. Also, many of the main streets are cramped, not surprising since many of the smaller towns evolved over hundreds of years.

4. Don’t drink the water. In larger urban areas it’s safe, but tastes horrid.

5. Would you like to go to college? Better pass your baccalaureate exam, administered when you are 16. Pass it and you get to go to college. Fail and you are tracked into a trade.

6. Most European countries have an underclass of immigrant workers imported to do the nasty jobs like picking up trash, cleaning the streets etc. They are not citizens and they are treated like “the hired help”. The live in slums. Most countries do not grant birthright citizenship like the US.

7. In addition to income taxes, Germans have the privilege of paying a 14% VAT on every purchase. Gotta fund all that Christian Socialist goodness.

8. If you are an employer and you have to let someone go because your business falls off, you get to pay them 80% of their salary for the next two years.

9. Unions generally have a voting representative on the board of large firms.

10. Part of the taxes you pay go to subsidize organized religion. Ministers et al are salaried employees of the state.

Compared to Europe, the US is still the wild west. Freer, rougher and more dynamic.

Seward August 24, 2009 at 2:10 pm

flo,

I’d just like to point out that in many U.S. states cellars flood, give you radon poisoning, harbor dangerous pests, etc. Or to flip it around, air conditioning is common throughout much of the U.S., but it isn’t common in say Sweden. What is wrong with the Swedes?

Most European houses look the same in any particular neighborhood from any particular time period (they generally use the same color pallette, the same building materials, etc.). That’s not surprising; it is far cheaper to build a home that way. Only really, really rich people can afford a “proper” chateau or some such.

At this point I would just like to mention, you know, Montaigne’s discussion of stoves.

Paludicola August 24, 2009 at 2:10 pm

Mister Teicher identified my chief objection to suburbs in his last sentence: driving. It is very difficult in most suburbs to live without an automobile for transportation, but I detest driving automobiles, so I detest suburbs. I also find them boring: the architecture is repetitive, bland and scattered; there is a lower density of people, places and things, so suburbs have less to interest me.

Further: mowing the lawn sucks. I was raised in suburban Pennsylvania and I mowing the lawn, as well as other tedious garden chores, was regularly assigned to me.

I have left it and I never want to go back to that way of life.

Seward August 24, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Steve C.,

Well, many European states also have a number of speech restrictions that I find highly problematic, as well as a level of state-church involvement that would be unconstitutional in the U.S.

nick August 24, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Both America & Europe are far too diverse to be either championed or dismissed versus the other. I currently live in London & my experience here is closer to that of Manhattan (both good & bad) than, say, rural Italy.

Punditus Maximus August 24, 2009 at 2:30 pm

That’s so funny, because it was my visit to Europe which really opened my eyes to how awful being raised in the suburbs was. Wild.

Seward August 24, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Er…

CC&R…

Seward August 24, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Allan,

That is, unless you are part of a congregation, in which case, the state collects your fee for belonging to the congregation.

Which is fairly problematic on a number of different levels. The U.S. has a freer market in religion than just about anywhere.

Tom August 24, 2009 at 2:50 pm

“Why not just look at revealed preferences? The Europe to America migration is much more common than the reverse.”

Err, nice try, but most Americans don’t speak a foreign language, so don’t have the opportunity to reveal their preference. I take willingness to travel and work in different places as a sign of European’s flexibility and willingness to try new things. Also, given most Americans don’t even own a passport…

Seward August 24, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Tom,

So, learning a foreign language is the only way you would figure out if wanted to travel? Really?

Furthermore, perhaps their revealed preference was not to learn another language? Anyway, continental Europeans don’t learn English because they are part of some haute culture that values it, but due to the fact that it is useful to do so. English is the lingua franca currently.

As for travel being a sign of anything, well, I reject the notion those who emigrate or immigrate are any sort of a measure of those who don’t. For example, one could just as easily as argue that those who leave Europe are those least comfortable with the place; the ones who find Europe far more unsavory. I wouldn’t find that convincing either.

anirprof August 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Joe:

“what exactly do you consume as a city-dweller that would be much less convenient for an equivalent income suburbanite who lives say 20 miles outside the city where you live?”

1. The ability to get to places by walking instead of by car (i.e., to work, to shopping, to cafes and bars, to entertainment)

2. Far more interesting background scenery while walking places — compare a walk in a lively neighborhood vs walking down subdivision streets full of 5000 sq ft lots where everyone hangs out only the back yard. For truly rural walks with wildlife, suburbs don’t offer that either; that involves driving from either local

3. Much higher density of interesting restaurants from a variety of ethnic cuisines.

4. Living very close to work, either walkable, quick public transit, or a short drive

Just for a start.

8 August 24, 2009 at 3:17 pm

America is underrated because Europeans tend to view America in aggregate, rather than its components.

Has anyone mentioned small towns in America? Consider the DC to Boston corridor. It’s easy to have all the benefits of walkable living and be within driving distance of the city.

Seward August 24, 2009 at 3:21 pm

All of those comes down to how you want to live your life. So, for me the question is more, which place offers me the most choices?

Damien August 24, 2009 at 3:52 pm

I tend to agree that the middle class has it better in America, but you shouldn’t go too far either. Take Mo for instance. What he describes is definitely not typical of Europe as a whole. I have *never* met a European middle class person who didn’t have a clothes dryer. “Kind of run down flats” are not the norm either. Some people certainly live in run down apartments, but they’re not the middle class.

Part of the problem might be that, unless you define “middle class”, it is very hard to be sure that you’re not comparing apples to oranges. The differences are mostly differences in income, which can easily be explained by the different levels of taxation between the US and Europe. But that’s not anything new.

I think debt is also another factor. Maybe Americans have more and bigger cars, nicer homes, etc. than Europeans, but are saddled with debt. Household saving rates as % of disposable income hover around 9-10% in the Euro area, vs. .5% in the US.

Finally, for every person like me who says “in my experience, Europeans dont’ X”, there’s gonna be someone making the opposite claim. There’s a lot of heterogeneity here and you can’t really compare “Europe” and “the US”. I know European countries where you have big box stores a la Costco (don’t they even have Costcos in the UK??), suburbs, high levels of car ownership, etc.

liberalarts August 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm

As a related point, that before people get too high on old Europe’s charms, recall millions of Europeans left Europe to immigrate to our slums and farms in Europe’s pre-social safety net days. The fabulous architecture of the cities was never the home of the bottom half of the population,unless they were forceably relocated to build those grand boulevards.

Current August 24, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Seward: “It doesn’t so much even more.”

What does that mean?

Seward: “And if one doesn’t want to move into a neighborhood that has CCNRs which require a lawn which is freshly mowed, etc., then don’t move there.”

That’s an obstacle, true.

Allan: “In Europe you can live well with children in urban centers on a middle class income”

Not in any part of Europe I know. Where do you mean? Finland.

Allan: “less civilized.”

This strongly depends on which part of Europe you’re talking about. Have you been to England or Ireland. I live in a city in Ireland which is on fire most days.

Mo: “Visiting England and Scotland this summer, I couldn’t help but notice once you left the posh city centers how poor the middle class is. Kind of run down flats seems to be the norm. And *no one* had a clothes dryer! These areas are rich in natural and cultural amenities but it seems like 90+% of the people live in conditions I would consider lower middle class for the US (and maybe even upper low class).”

Yes. The reason for the clothes dryer thing is often the nature of renting. If you move into a rented house it probably won’t have a clothes dryer. That means you have to buy a clothes dryer, get it into your flat (easier said than done) then remove it if you have to leave. It’s all too much hassle.

dearieme August 24, 2009 at 4:30 pm

You have bigger fridges. We have Paris, Venice, Prague, Florence, Oxford, Edinburgh…….

Relyt August 24, 2009 at 4:33 pm

I’d like to refer back to discussion that took place here back in 2005 titled “What is wrong with American food?” and I think you’ll see a bit of overlap between then and now.

http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2005/11/what_is_wrong_w.html

Both then and now are two aspects of the same question – why is what’s better in Europe better there, and why is what’s better here better here?

I still think that my answer hold true then and now ~

“We are a middle class country.

A friend explained it this way – generally, anything (meals, service, shopping, hookers, whatever) that is very expensive will be better in London than it is in New York.

But anything that is merely expensive will be better in New York than it is in London.

And anything that is moderately priced will be better in Chicago than it is in New York.

Posted by: [Relyt] at Nov 13, 2005 8:14:39 AM”

Just add architecture to the list … and re-imagine social services as products of elite tastes and not as aid to the poor and you’ll see why Europe’s service are ‘better’ than America’s …

Seward August 24, 2009 at 4:51 pm

jacobus,

Most Europeans do not drink brandy, and even in the UK brandy consumption is down. This isn’t the 1940s.

I’m part of that 70% and having witnessed the alternative, I perfer the greater freedom and liberty of the U.S. I live in a country where the state doesn’t tell me what must make up the content of a particular sort of sausage, and where I have to get approval to develop different types of sausages.

As for the rest of the 70%, I suspect their attitudes are far more diverse than your description allows.

eccdogg August 24, 2009 at 5:07 pm

“All of those comes down to how you want to live your life. So, for me the question is more, which place offers me the most choices?”

This is where I come down as well. We each have different preferences and an ideal place is one that allows us the try to acheive those preference with miniimal interferance.

I tend to like city living and many of the ways in which Europeans live. But, it is not difficult to recreate that environment in the United States if that is what you want. My wife daughter and I live a few miles from downtown in a mid sized city. We have a coffee shop, barber, drug store, multiple restaurants/bars and several parks within walking distance. We chose our city and neighborhood because this is what WE wanted.

Traveling and living in other places I have found that you can find similar environments in other med/large cities in the US. You just have to be willing to live as Europeans do. With small houses, small lots, few bathrooms, small cheap appliances, kids sharing bedrooms, less disposable income after housing etc.

Most Americans don’t want to live this way, and I am glad that they have the option of living in the suburbs. I get the feeling that these types of options don’t exist as easily for Europeans.

Andy August 24, 2009 at 5:18 pm

I don’t understand all the bashing of chains. They are much more likely to have good food than a random non-chain restaurant, because they actually put research and work into designing their menus. Sure they aren’t as good as the top non-chains, but some of them *are* pretty good. For example: Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, In-N-Out, Jimmy John’s.

Andrew August 24, 2009 at 5:27 pm

My question. These guys have been at it for hundreds more years. In China’s case, thousands. Why is it even a close call?

BobN August 24, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Before you go deciding that all those pretty buildings you see in the urban cores London, Berlin, Milan, etc., are “pre-war”, you might want to check out photos of those areas just after the end of WWII.

SkippEU August 24, 2009 at 7:15 pm

But that’s about the only thing that an American doesn’t have that a European has.

Well, I can sit down (even naked) with friend in the city park and have a beer. Public life is much freer in Europe than it was ever in US.

Adam August 24, 2009 at 7:57 pm

Almost any place one goes on vacation turns out to be good. Hey, you get to stay in a hotel where they make your bed, clean your room, and you don’t have to do the dishes! Life is good, even if you’re staying on the poor side of Paris or eating in a hole in the wall restaurant in Mexico City. Living and working there? That’s another question–it’s not a vacation.

Borealis August 24, 2009 at 8:26 pm

So the problem with those big box stores and suburban restaurants is that no one once to go there, yet they somehow draw all the business away from those yuppie favorite stores and restaurants? I think JB hit the nail on the head.

Charlie August 24, 2009 at 8:58 pm

“If all of the U.S. looked like U.S. postwar construction, the country would still impress more or less as it does.”

I’m not so sure about that. Much of what we most admire about our own cities is the pre-1945 built legacy. The few residential neighborhoods in the USA which approximate a European urbanism, such as Beacon Hill, Greenwich Village and Georgetown, are enormously expensive, high demand areas.

With a few exceptions, post-1945 places are unloved. The vast bulk of construction is either suburban sprawl, or glass boxes and parking garages downtown. Europe built many of the same things, of course, but without the same self-inflicted damage to the pre-1945 city.

Zephyrus August 24, 2009 at 9:23 pm

It also depends on who you are–it’s far better to be poor or lower middle class in Europe than in the USA. This, incidentally, is also the reason you see a net migration to the USA: it’s much easier to immigrate if you’re well-off. For the well-off, the USA is by and large better. So among all people who have the ability to immigrate, the USA will be the preferred choice, but that doesn’t say much about its value behind a Rawlsian curtain.

In the end, though, I think these kinds of comparisons are close meaningless, just because of the great heterogeneity of both the USA and Europe. You’ve got to specify where you’re talking about. Given a choice between suburban Paris and suburban Atlanta, the latter is likely a lot better. Urban Munich or urban Dallas? Easily the former. Rural Mississippi versus rural Serbia? Hard to say.

Of course, there’s no better place in the world to live than the SF Bay Area. Very few Americans or Europeans, however, have enough human capital to earn the kind of income needed to live there.

Seward August 24, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Zephyrus,

It also depends on who you are–it’s far better to be poor or lower middle class in Europe than in the USA.

How exactly do you come to this determination?

Zephyrus August 24, 2009 at 9:51 pm

Seward,

Typically there’s less inequality in Europe, both in income and wealth. This, though not in itself a good thing, suggests a more equal distribution of power, making the (justifiable) equation of money and power. This works out well in moderately rich countries, as the less well-off then effect transfer payments, in one form or another, from those who have resources toward those who don’t.

Hence, universal health care. It’s a bit silly to think that people who don’t have health insurance in the USA for economic reasons have it nearly as good as people in Europe who do, regardless of their race, class, or age. Poor people in Europe have disproportionately better health outcomes than poor people in the USA, even accounting for lifestyle differences. Indeed, poor people and immigrants are the people who drag down the USA’s healthcare statistics.

Constructing similar arguments for unemployment insurance, government-subsidized childcare, etc. is left as an exercise to the reader.

Zephyrus August 25, 2009 at 1:14 am

zz, or perhaps the issue is that rural Mississippi is really a shitty place.

Let’s start off with your numbers, which make the error of conflating per capita income with household income. Going by straight nominal GDP, Serbia makes $6.7k per capita, while Mississippi makes $19.3k per capita. Adjusting for PPP brings Serbia up to around $11k per capita.

Haha, you say! That’s still $8.3k more! But you’re ignoring the rural modifiers. So, consider:

Mississippi has the second highest level of inequality in the United States as measured by the Gini index (0.48), and the second highest poverty rate in the country; furthermore, these are geographically dispersed, with the most impoverished Mississippians living in rural areas. Serbia has an exceptionally low Gini (0.24), with a much less pronounced geographic clustering of incomes. So where would end up being better, between rural Serbia and rural Mississippi, if your only metric is a measure of typical incomes in those regions? It’s hard to say, which is exactly the point.

Oh, and as for your slam at the end? I would say Houston and Atlanta are both world class cities that can easily compete with most of the cities of Europe, but neither are known for any particular cultural liberalism. So your motivation seems a whole lot more to be defending your own cultural insecurities via attacking people with more cosmopolitan ideas. (See, look, two can place this game!) It’s only your deep-seated need to validate yourself that drives you to act this way.

Zephyrus August 25, 2009 at 1:48 am

Doc, true about the tax system, but there’s two sides to redistribution: who gets taxed, and who gets the dough. In Europe, the poor and middle class are taxed more relative to the rich, but at the same time they get crazy spending.

Also, I want to correct my previous comment: Mississippi’s per capita income is 26.9k, not 19.3. Found different (and ultimately more accurate) figures while trying to hunt down county by county data.

joan August 25, 2009 at 2:57 am

If Americans like attractive houses why don’t we build more of them, good design adds very little to the cost of a house. Many of our post war houses position windows based on interior needs producing exteriors that look like they were designed by a committee but the old houses we admire were designed to viewed from the street. Even worse are the ones that look like cars live there and they keep people as servants in the rear.

jk August 25, 2009 at 4:42 am

I like the choice presented by europe. let all the american types self select and stay where they are…

ALso, at least in Scandinavia, nerdy guys are considered attractive by beautiful blond women…

from denmark

CV August 25, 2009 at 5:13 am

One thing people almost always ignore when speaking about life in Europe is the fact that its countries are very different from each other. Speaking from experience, the difference between life in Spain and in Germany is at least as noticeable as the difference between either of those countries and the US. People shouldn’t assume they know about Europe when they actually know about one country in Europe.

Regarding the better education of Europeans, people claim we are more educated, but as someone mentioned we believe in evolution and are agnostic/atheist because that’s the norm, not because we are more thoughtful.

Europeans hold plenty of silly beliefs, especially when it comes to what we think of the US. People here will readily believe that the US government routinely abducts and executes political dissidents and that sept. 11 was a ploy to get Iraqui oil. People will often complain about american arrogance, and then enumerate all the things that make europe superior to america without realizing the irony. It gets tiresome.

I much prefer life in Europe (by which I mean Spain), but we too have plenty of idiots.

Current August 25, 2009 at 6:19 am

SkippEU: “Well, I can sit down (even naked) with friend in the city park and have a beer. Public life is much freer in Europe than it was ever in US.”

Public nudity is forbidden in all European countries I know of. It’s permitted in only a few specific places, mainly beaches.

I don’t understand your point about beer. Is that prohibited in some parks in the US?

Zephyrus: “I would say Houston and Atlanta are both world class cities that can easily compete with most of the cities of Europe, but neither are known for any particular cultural liberalism. So your motivation seems a whole lot more to be defending your own cultural insecurities via attacking people with more cosmopolitan ideas. (See, look, two can place this game!) It’s only your deep-seated need to validate yourself that drives you to act this way.”

I think that zz is quite right to criticize you, comparing Serbia and Mississippi is just ridiculous.

But, this brings up an interesting question. What places are truly cosmopolitan?

Ginger Yellow August 25, 2009 at 7:23 am

As someone who has, since the age of 13, either lived in or worked opposite buildings aged between 300 and 600 years old, I can confirm that it’s not just American tourists who like striking old buildings.

As for Steve C’s post, most of those points are Germany specific, and for many of them I’m not sure what the problem is. Small farms are bad now? So all that Republican outrage over the practically non-existent problem small farms being crushed by estate tax was just a pose?

Millian August 25, 2009 at 8:19 am

“These guys have been at it for hundreds more years. In China’s case, thousands. Why is it even a close call?”

Because “we guys” are the same as “you guys”, give or take relatively recent migrant populations. We are Europeans plus Turks and North Africans, you are Europeans plus West Africans. This question would only make sense if technology reset upon colonisation – like if the Mayflower were fitted with Men In Black-esque amnesia devices that reduced A in the Cobb-Douglas function to A(0).

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