El truco contable de Escandinavia

Mientras la mayoría de los países avanzados del mundo se topan con crecientes dificultades a la hora de hacer frente a las fuerzas de la globalización y la competencia de los países con salarios bajos, los países escandinavos -Dinamarca, Finlandia, Noruega y Suecia- parecen haber manejado estos desafíos bastante bien. Sin duda, el crecimiento escandinavo es mediocre. Con un crecimiento promedio anual del PBI del 2,2% entre 1995 y 2005, fue inferior al promedio para los países no escandinavos del grupo de los 15 de la Unión Europea, que crecieron un promedio del 2,8%. Pero Escandinavia es buena en términos de niveles de PBI per capita y desempleo. Su PBI promedio per capita fue el 39% más alto que el de otros países de la UE, y en promedio la tasa de desempleo se mantuvo en el 6,7%, comparada con el 8% en otras partes de la UE.

¿Cuál es el secreto detrás del éxito de Escandinavia? Una explicación para el sólido desempeño de Escandinavia es la osada liberalización del mercado de productos de Suecia, la reducida generosidad del sistema de sustitución salarial de Dinamarca y el milagro de Nokia en Finlandia. Sin embargo, si bien estos factores pueden explicar parte del éxito de Escandinavia, la baja tasa de desempleo y el alto nivel del PBI per capita también encuentran una explicación mucho más directa: la alta proporción del empleo gubernamental en la fuerza laboral. Cuando los empleos privados ya no son competitivos, los empleos gubernamentales parecen ser la solución fácil para que la gente siga empleada.

En realidad, sorprende lo importante que es la participación del empleo gubernamental en Escandinavia. En Suecia, representa el 33,5% del “empleo dependiente” (empleo total excluyendo a los cuentapropistas) y, en Dinamarca, el 32,9%. En promedio, la porción del empleo estatal en la fuerza laboral en toda Escandinavia es del 32,7%, comparado con apenas el 18,5% en promedio en los países no escandinavos del grupo de los 15 de la UE. En Alemania, la economía más importante de Europa, la participación del gobierno en la fuerza laboral es de apenas el 12,2%.

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