Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Or, don't talk about a social question until you actually sit down and think out if your answer makes sense. The wonderful world of labor economics.
Many people are blaming the riots in France on the high unemployment rate among young Muslim men living in the ghettoes around Paris and elsewhere. Some are blaming both the unemployment and the ghettoization on discrimination by the French.
Plausible as these explanations may sound, they ignore economics, among other things.
Let us go back a few generations in the United States. We need not speculate about racial discrimination because it was openly spelled out in laws in the Southern states, where most blacks lived, and was not unknown in the North.
Yet in the late 1940s, the unemployment rate among young black men was not only far lower than it is today but was not very different from unemployment rates among young whites the same ages. Every census from 1890 through 1930 showed labor force participation rates for blacks to be as high as, or higher than, labor force participation rates among whites.
Why are things so different today in the United States — and so different among Muslim young men in France? That is where economics comes in.