Don’t hold your breath, Dr. Krugman. Once a cliché becomes as lodged in the public consciousness as this one about the French being a bunch of wine-slurping slackers, the cliché has a life of its own, facts be damned.
But in truth the French deserve an apology from a lot of American politicians and commentators. If you think that France is a nation where everyone is either lazy or unemployed, compared with hard-working America, you’re not just repeating a caricature, you’re repeating a caricature that’s many years out of date. The French do take more vacations than we do; but in their prime working years, they’re a lot more likely to be employed than we are:
Whenever I mention this fact, I get mail from people insisting that I must be wrong and demanding a correction. Even well-informed commentators seem to be underinformed on this point; for example, Justin Fox, while not wrong in what he says here, doesn’t seem aware that lower French overall labor force participation is entirely the result of early retirement and lower employment among the young — which in turn partly reflects students not having to work in college.
Of course, French employment success isn’t what is supposed to happen in a generous welfare state
(click here to continue reading Cheese-Eating Job Creators – The New York Times.)