The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline

The Future of Europe: Reform or Decline


Unless Europe takes action soon, its further economic and political
decline is almost inevitable, economists Alberto Alesina and Francesco Giavazzi
write in this provocative book. Without comprehensive reform, continental Western
Europe''s overprotected, overregulated economies will continue to slow — and its
political influence will become negligible. This doesn''t mean that Italy, Germany,
France, and other now-prosperous countries will become poor; their standard of
living will remain comfortable. But they will become largely irrelevant on the world
scene. In The Future of Europe, Alesina and Giavazzi (themselves
Europeans) outline the steps that Europe must take to prevent its economic and
political eclipse.Europe, the authors say, has much to learn from
the market liberalism of America. Europeans work less and vacation more than
Americans; they value job stability and security above all. Americans, Alesina and
Giavazzi argue, work harder and longer and are more willing to endure the ups and
downs of a market economy. Europeans prize their welfare states; Americans abhor
government spending. America is a melting pot; European countries — witness the
November 2005 unrest in France — have trouble absorbing their immigrant
populations. If Europe is to arrest its decline, Alesina and Giavazzi warn, it needs
to adopt something closer to the American free-market model for dealing with these
issues.Alesina and Giavazzi''s prescriptions for how Europe should
handle worker productivity, labor market regulation, globalization, support for
higher education and technology research, fiscal policy, and its multiethnic
societies are sure to stir controversy, as will their eye-opening view of the
European Union and the euro. But their wake-up call will ring loud and clear for
anyone concerned about the future of Europe and the global economy.
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