Francia no funciona

El malestar crónico de Francia está signado por explosiones periódicas de protesta. Los dos episodios más recientes –los disturbios e incendios en las ciudades francesas en el pasado otoño y la exitosa campaña estudiantil a principios de este año contra una nueva ley que regía las postulaciones de los jóvenes al mercado laboral- parecen tener poco en común. Sin embargo, su hilo conductor es la juventud, el desempleo y la incertidumbre sobre el futuro, así como el sofocante paternalismo estatal que es la base del malestar más generalizado.

Tomemos, por ejemplo, el objetivo deseable de la seguridad laboral. Los gobiernos franceses han intentado alcanzar esta meta de la única manera que conocen: una mayor regulación. No sorprende, entonces, que las reglas que dificultan el despido de trabajadores establecidos disuadan a los empleadores de contratar empleados nuevos. Quienes están adentro gozan de protecciones generosas, mientras que las barreras de ingreso para los millones que quedan afuera son infranqueables.

En consecuencia, esta década el desempleo está promediando el 10% y no bajó del 8% en 20 años. Y si bien el nivel general de desempleo se mantuvo estable –aunque a un nivel sorprendentemente elevado-, la tasa de desempleo entre los hombres jóvenes (en el grupo comprendido entre 16 y 24 años) saltó del 15,3% en 1990 al 21,4% en 2005.

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