terça-feira, 30 de maio de 2006

Directamente do pasquim sem intermediários (Uma outra posta mirandesa do alto para quem goste)1

(...) In short, in the European view, social stability is desirable, and if a certain amount of inflexibility is needed to underspin it, that is a price worth paying to avoid the restless uncertainties of America's market-driven model.

Yet the curious thing is that European society - at least in the Nordic countries - is far less stable than America's. Two new research papers2 confirm that, if one compares the income of children with those of their parents, or considers how long people in one income group stay there, Nordic countries emerge as far more mobile than America. (...)

###The biggest finding of the studies is not, however, about overall social mobility, but about mobility at the bottom. This is the most distinctive feature of Nordic societies, and it is also perhaps the most significant difference with America. Around three-quarters of sons born into the poorest fifth of the population in Nordic countries in the late 1950s had moved out of that category by the time they were in their early 40s. In contrast only just half of American born at the bottom later moved up. (...)

The Nordic countries are distinctive in one further way: the sons born at the bottom (into the poorest fifth) earn roughly the same as those born a rung above them (the second poorest fifth). In other words, Nordic countries have almost completely snapped the link between the earnings of parents and children at and near the bottom. This is not at all true of America.

Social mobility at midle-income levels is more similar everywhere (it is a bit higher in most European countries, but not by much). That may partly explain why Americans think their society is more mobile than it is (the middle classes tend to set the political agenda, and mobility is genuine enough for them). It may also explain why few Europeans appreciate quite how much movement up and down the income ladder there is, because much of it takes place off the radar screen of the politically influential.

The obvious explanation for greater mobility in the Nordic countries is their tax and wellfare systems, which (especially when compared with America's) deliberately try to help the children of the poor to do better than their parents. One might expect social mobility and economic flexibility to go together - in fact, to be two sides of the same coin. But to the extent that redistribution is an explanation, it implies the opposite: that social mobility is a product of high public spending, a bit like the low incidence of poverty or longer life expectancy (on both of wich Europe also does better than America). But greater public spending tends also to be associated with less economic flexibility - which is why Nordic countries have sought to limit the more arthritis-inducing features of their tax-and-spend programmes.

Yet redistributive fiscal policies cannot be all there is to it. If they were, Nordic countries would not do as well as they do (their wellfare states are not appreciably more generous than Britain's). The other part of the explanation seems to be their superior education systems. Education has long been recognised as the most important single trigger of social mobility - and all four Nordic countries do unnusually well in the school-appraisal ssytem developed by the OECD.

(...) For Europe, the secrets of greater social mobility are, first, tough redistribution policies that particularly benefit those at the bottom; and, especially in Nordic countries, a more supple and less class-ridden education system, running from top to bottom. America could learn something from that.

(The Economist May 27th 2006)

1O título espelha a dívida para com a sugestão e para com a prosa de dorean paroxales em comentário a um post meu anterior.
2"Non-linearities in Inter-generational Earnings Mobility" (Royal Economics Society, London). "American Exceptionalism in a New Light" (Institute for the Study of Labour, Bonn) Bernt Bratsberg, Knut Roed, Oddbjorn Raaum, Robin Naylor, Markus Jantti, Tor Eriksson, Eva Osterbacka and Anders Bjorklund.

2 comentários :

Ricardo Alves disse...

É um recorte muito interessante...

João Vasco disse...

Mas mobilidade social n é contrário de estabilidade. E são ambas desejáveis.