Friday, October 21, 2005


HatTip to Mingi. Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, has a great article on Europe and China:

European Union finance ministers went to China last week. Let's hope the trip shatters the complacency that seems to pervade European capitals these days. "Wake up and smell the coffee," is what Americans like to say when they encounter complacency. But it's the Chinese green tea the Europeans need to wake up and smell.

A hundred years ago any delegation of European leaders visiting China could have felt smug with reason. Western Europe accounted for roughly a third of world output. After a century of economic stagnation, China produced less than a tenth.
The roots of the problem are not far to seek. As the OECD points out, an exceptionally large share of British pupils leave school without qualifications. This helps to explain why one in every 14 British men aged between 25 and 54 is inactive; they simply lack the skills that employers need. Thirty per cent of Britons aged between 25 and 34 are classified by the OECD as "low-skilled", the second-worst rate in a sample of 16 developed countries. The countries that come top - with five per cent or fewer "low-skilled" - are Japan and Korea.

This is where Europe really has to worry. For what is happening in Asia is not merely that their manufactures are becoming as good as ours. The reality is that their workforce is rapidly becoming better than ours. And as a billion-plus Chinese pour their energies not only into working but also into studying, the gap between the Old West and the New East can only widen.
(full article)

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