Rebecca Blank

Rebecca M. Blank teaches economics at the University of Michigan, where she is also Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the Henry Carter Adams Collegiate Professor of Public Policy. She is also the co-director of the National Poverty Center at the Ford School.

Recent Articles

Behind the Numbers: The Misdiagnosis of Eurosclerosis

Champions of the U.S. economic system say that Europe's generous social protections cause high unemployment. But it's the global economy that's driving up joblessness in Europe--just as it increases income inequality in the United States.

F or two decades, virtually every western European nation has faced high and persistent unemployment. Many Europeans now look to the United States as a model of labor market flexibility. It is argued that Europe's "rigid" policies, encumbering payrolls with benefit costs, giving workers social rights, and making them hard to fire, deters European industry from creating jobs. Conversely, it is said that America, with its lesser levels of social protection, is a job-creation machine. The United States, however, displays rising wage inequality not mirrored in Europe. This has lead some observers to argue that labor markets on both continents share common pathologies, reflecting the common influence of slow growth, globalization, and technological change. Europe simply chooses to take its slower growth in the form of higher unemployment, while the United States has chosen more jobs but greater inequality. It is wrong to assume a simple trade-off between social protections and labor market...