Dean Rohrer

Les services sans la ruine

NEW YORK - En économie, une affirmation célèbre veut que le coût des services (comme la santé ou l’éducation) ait tendance à augmenter par rapport au coût des produits (comme l’alimentation, le pétrole et les machines). Cela semble correct : les populations du monde entier peinent à faire face à la hausse des coûts des soins de santé et de l’éducation - des coûts qui semblent augmenter chaque année plus rapidement que l’inflation globale. Pourtant, une forte baisse des coûts de la santé, de l’éducation et d’autres services est aujourd’hui possible, grâce à la révolution actuelle des technologies de l’information et de la communication (TIC).

En comparaison avec le coût des produits, le coût des services dépend de la productivité. Si les agriculteurs deviennent beaucoup plus performants en termes de récoltes alimentaires, et que les instituteurs deviennent seulement un peu plus performants en termes d’instruction des enfants, le coût de l’alimentation aura tendance à baisser par rapport au coût de l’éducation. Par ailleurs, la proportion de population travaillant dans l’agriculture aura tendance à diminuer, dans la mesure où de moins en moins d’agriculteurs seront nécessaires pour nourrir le pays tout entier.

Il s’agit là d’un modèle que nous observons depuis longtemps : la part de la population active employée dans la production de marchandises a diminuée au fil du temps, tandis que le coût des marchandises a diminué par rapport à celui des services. En 1950, environ 4% de la population des États-Unis était employée dans l’agriculture, 38% dans l’industrie (notamment les mines, le bâtiment, et la manufacture) et 58% dans les services. En 2010, ces proportions s’élevaient respectivement aux alentours de 2%, 17% et 81%. Dans le même temps, les coûts des soins de santé et de l’éducation ont grimpé en flèche, de même que les coûts d’un grand nombre de services.

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