Jul 11, 2017

Germany may be less of an economic miracle than we thought

Curimedia/Creative Commons

A lot more Germans have obtained jobs over the last two decades, but they are working fewer hours, per the Financial Times' Alphaville blog. The post, based on a new paper by German economist Christian Odendahl, is titled, "The myth of the German jobs miracle."

The significance of Odendahl's findings is that Germany is often held up as an example of how to weather the cross-cutting storms of globalization, hyper-advancing technology, and migration. Among his conclusions:

  • The number of jobs in Germany is up by 15% since a trough in the mid-1990s. But the total number of hours worked has grown by much less — by 2%. In other words, Germans as a whole are working fewer hours.
  • And their jobs increasingly are not paid much: As of 2014, almost a quarter of Germany's workers are paid at or below €10.50 an hour, up from 15% in the 1990s.

Why it matters: If Odendahl's findings hold up, they cast a new cloud over the West's challenge of navigating the current global political turbulence, which is largely driven by four decades of stagnating wages and job loss.

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