Subsidios que salvan

¿Fue la reciente ola de protestas en Francia contra una enmienda que habría aumentado la libertad de los empleadores para despedir a los trabajadores jóvenes una especie de bendición disfrazada? Para calmar las protestas, el Presidente Jacques Chirac se vio obligado a retirar esta cláusula y en su lugar ha propuesto subsidios a la contratación como una manera de reducir el desempleo juvenil. En Alemania se está planteando una propuesta parecida de subsidios salariales focalizados.

Los partidarios de una mayor flexibilidad del mercado insisten en que pagar a los empleadores para que contraten a jóvenes es el enfoque equivocado. Dejad que los empleadores tengan menos limitaciones para despedir trabajadores, argumentan, y los empleadores los contratarán más fácilmente. Sin embargo, el problema de esta visión es que un mercado laboral flexible no erradicará el desempleo ni transformará a los trabajadores marginales y poco capacitados en empleados de alta productividad y buenos salarios. Si los subsidios propuestos en Francia y Alemania tienen un defecto, no es que sean innecesarios, sino que no apuntan lo suficientemente lejos.

En las economías avanzadas de Occidente, muchas personas de todos los grupos de edad carecen en la práctica de un empleo formal. En los Estados Unidos, la paga de los trabajadores menos cualificados es tan baja que, si su situación no es calamitosa, tienen dificultades emocionales para mantener un trabajo mucho tiempo, o terminan desmoralizándose o distrayéndose demasiado como para ser buenos empleados, o las leyes de sueldo mínimo hacen que sean imposibles de costear por parte de los empleadores que respetan la ley. En Europa, quedan excluidos del empleo por los contratos de trabajo y, en algunos casos, por las leyes de salario mínimo. En ambos casos, estos trabajadores pierden la oportunidad de participar y desarrollarse como personas que ofrecen la mayoría de los trabajos legítimos.

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