By all relevant measures the Western European economies are not doing well compared to America. GDP per capita is some 40% higher in the US than among the EU 15. Unemployment for many of the welfare states is stuck in double digits, and even higher using comprehensive measures.
The relative poverty is reflected in many areas, such as lower private consumption, and lower quality of public services despite higher taxes. One would expect a vivid debate in Europe of their economic problems, especially given how resentful many Europeans are of America’s superior wealth and power. But Europe has chosen a much more painless approach: Denial.
“Who says the Europeans economy is doing badly? Our enlightened system is burying the McAmericans! Haven’t you heard of “Balanced Growth”?
There seems to be an entire industry devoted to making up more or less fanciful arguments why Europe is really doing better than the US. I want to exemplify and debunk some of those myths. In the process I also hope to convince you that Americans work less and have more free time than Swedes.
Forgive an econo-porn post every once in awhile.