Allister Heath has written an excellent article, asking whether France is ungovernable. Well, is France ungovernable?
It's certainly unemployable-given the excesses of irresponsibility that tenured academics in the US exhibit, how can any rational businessman want to hire more French people? The entire damn country has tenure!
Going hand in hand with a bloated government and an oppressive tax burden is an execessive amount of red tape, especially in the labour market, as well as very high non-wage costs and social security contributions that employers must pay. These and other hidden taxes on jobs are the main reason why only 34% of those over the age of 55 work (against an average of 50% for countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and among those aged from 16 to 25, only 26.4% are in work. France’s 2,501-page Code du Travail, the country’s labour market regulations, is a hideous document which makes it is so hard to fire workers that companies are extremely reluctant to offer permanent contracts. The standard rules for French workers stipulate that employees can be sacked only if employers are able to prove a “serious” fault or that they are in crisis. Two out of three cases for unfair dismisal in France end up with the plaintiff winning in or out of court.
In France’s deeply distorted and dysfunctional labour market, those with jobs form two tribes. The lucky ones have government-specified “contrat à durée indéterminée” (CDI) contracts, with full job protection, generous benefits and retirement packages. But the difficulty of ending CDIs have encouraged companies that do need more staff to hire most of them on short-term “contrat à durée déterminée” (CDD) contracts, creating a growing army of people who have work, but fear they may soon lose it. This is a central reason for France’s obsession with “insecurity”; paradoxically, because of misguided government intervention, many jobs in France are actually less secure than in the US or UK, where most people who want them have permanent contracts.
How can this bizarre system survive continued contact with reality? Heath's is a long piece, but well worth reading. More:
France’s best and brightest have already decided that there is only one viable solution: to leave the country and find a job in a more rational economy. From 1991 to 2002, the number of French workers living in other parts of western Europe jumped 47%, to 563,977 from 382,708, according to Insee, the French national statistics agency. About 20,000 went to Ireland over that decade. The number leaving for Britain more than doubled, to 85,823, including this writer. French expatriates in the United States increased 44% to 88,287. But these figures, the latest available, miss out the huge outflow of the past three years.