Europe’s not so much more progressive than America, except when it is
January 12, 2012 1 Comment
Matt Yglesias makes some good points about why Republicans shouldn’t hate Europe: Keynesian economics is basically dead, fiscal discipline is (mostly) much stronger, immigration is more restricted, separation of church and state isn’t widespread, etc., etc. But then he wraps up by saying that the only reason people consider Europe to be so liberal is because its buildings are old and it’s densely populated.
Well, there’s one other thing, and it’s kind of the biggest thing: the social safety net. In most of Europe, people enjoy protections during retirement, unemployment, maternity, and even paternity that American liberals could only dream of. Not to mention the vastly better health care system here.
Take a look at this chart of (selected) OECD states ranked by welfare expenditure as a percentage of GDP. The top 20, in order, are: Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Finland, Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Norway, Poland, United Kingdom, Portugal, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Spain.
Notice a pattern here?
The United States comes in fourth from the bottom of this particular list, with 14.8% of its GDP spent on non-education welfare. Compare that to Denmark’s 29.2%, Germany’s 27.4%, or even Hungary’s 20.1%.
When American progressives look longingly, or conservatives derisively, to Europe, this is what they’re talking about.