Urban street in Europe

Relever le double défi pour la croissance européenne

MUNICH – Alors que la reprise économique commence enfin à se matérialiser en Europe, l'impératif pour les responsables politiques est d'assurer que la croissance puisse être maintenue le plus longtemps possible. La relance budgétaire et monétaire a pu être appropriée à l'apogée de la crise, mais elle ne permettra guère de répondre à la principale menace pour les perspectives à long terme du continent : le duo toxique que représentent une démographie faible et un bas niveau d’investissement.

Même en supposant un afflux constant d'immigrants, la population active combinée des 28 pays de l'Union européenne devraient se contracter de 12-16 millions de personnes au cours des 15 prochaines années, selon l'OCDE et la Commission européenne. Une hausse plus forte du nombre de nouveaux arrivants pourraient aider à améliorer la situation ; mais une immigration plus élevée n’est pas, à elle seule, une solution adéquate aux problèmes de long terme de l'économie de l'UE.

Le seul espoir de l'Europe de connaitre une croissance durable est de stimuler la productivité, de manière à tirer plus de valeur de sa population active en diminution. Le problème est que cela fait plusieurs années que le continent n’a plus connu de gains de productivité significatifs. En Europe occidentale, la croissance de la productivité du travail (la production par heure travaillée) décélère depuis plusieurs décennies. Durant les années 1960, la productivité du travail a augmenté de manière robuste à un taux annuel de 4%, avant de ralentir à 2% dans les années 1980 et descendre en dessous de 1% au tournant du siècle. Aujourd'hui, elle progresse tant que mal à environ 0,5% par an. Pendant ce temps, la productivité totale des facteurs, qui prend en compte l'innovation technologique, a été stagnante.

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