I found a graph on the net that compared the GDP of France to that of the US since 1960. As I look at this curve I wonder how is it that a country in which people work so many less hours per week, so many less days a year as a result of vacation, in which unemployment is considerably higher, in which the amount of years spent working so much lower than in the States and which is frequently paralyzed by strikes manages to stay pretty constant at around 77% GDP level of the US? My only conclusion is that when they work the French must be much more productive than the Americans. Otherwise this graph is a big mistery.

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Yann on January 6, 2006  · 

Hi Martin,

nice graph, actually.
It maybe due to foreigners enjoying french way of life and creating value here…you know a few, right ?


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Francisco on January 7, 2006  · 

France is always a big mistery for me in economic affairs.

Another interesting point is that, in spite of its huge rigidities and bourocracy, France has not a bad track record of high-calibre entrepreneurs.

I believe that the explanation for that is the educational system, which in my opinion is much more meritocratic than any other else in the developed world.

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Chris Keeling on February 6, 2006  · 

It is worth pointing out that GDP is measured in terms of local currency (i.e Euros / Francs) and needs to be adjusted for inflation before it provides a good comparison across time or other countries GDP. This adjusted figure is called real GDP.
Put another way – if all France produced was loaves of bread, and the price of an average loaf doubled in one year, GDP would be double at the end of that year.. but actual production would be the same.
Also, GDP excludes welfare payments. Hence, Mexico and Sweden have similar GDP but vastly different social benifits and standards of living, infrastructure etc.
One generalisation could be made – countries with higher social benefits (welfare support, national medical benifits etc) would expect to have
lower GDP’s than those without. So, France comes out on top vs. US.
Additionally, all other government spending is included in GDP (except social/welfare payments) – so US GDP includes their massive defence spending.
All together, unless inflationary differences account for France keeping up with US, you would think that France is looking good, due to lower defence spending and (presumably) higher welfare spending.

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