Ireland’s John Bruton Interview

SF Chronicle:

Q: Last week, we had as our guest Stanford Professor Michael Boskin, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors to the first President Bush. Boskin invoked an image of Europe of high taxes, high spending, overly generous social welfare networks, high unemployment and stagnant growth as something the United States must avoid at all costs. What is the European view of that critique?

A: If you took each of the 50 states in the U.S., you would find quite different economic performance as between Mississippi and California or as between Washington state or West Virginia. There are varieties in Europe, just as there are varieties here in the United States.

On average, productivity per hour worked is as high in Europe as it is in the United States, right across the board. In some countries like Ireland and the Netherlands, it is higher. However, Europeans work fewer hours. They work fewer hours per year, per week and per lifetime. They retire earlier.

Bruton was formerly Prime Minister of Ireland in the 1990’s.