Die Bestie, die nicht verhungert

CAMBRIDGE – Die Welt wird gerade Zeuge, wie die USA um ihre finanzielle Zukunft kämpfen, und sie sieht, wie mit den Umrissen des Kampfes größere soziale und philosophische Gräben zu Tage treten, die sich wahrscheinlich in unterschiedlicher Form in den kommenden Jahrzehnten in der ganzen Welt manifestieren werden. Es ist viel darüber diskutiert worden, wie die Staatsausgaben gekürzt werden können, aber wenig Aufmerksamkeit wird der Frage geschenkt, wie die Staatsausgaben effizienter werden können. Und dennoch, ohne kreativere Ansätze hinsichtlich der staatlichen Leistungen werden die staatlichen Ausgaben mit der Zeit weiter steigen.

Jede dienstleistungsintensive Branche steht vor denselben Herausforderungen. In den 60er Jahren des vergangenen Jahrhunderts schrieben die Ökonomen William Baumol und William Bowen über die „Kostenkrankheit“, die diese Branchen befallen habe. Ihr berühmtes Beispiel war das eines Mozart-Streichquartetts, das heute wie im 19. Jahrhundert dieselbe Anzahl Musiker und Instrumente benötigt. Ein Lehrer benötigt auch immer noch ebensoviel Zeit wie vor 100 Jahren, um eine Arbeit zu benoten. Gute Klempner kosten ein Vermögen, weil auch hier die Technologie nur sehr langsam voranschreitet.

Warum entstehen aus langsamem Produktionswachstum hohe Kosten? Das Problem ist, dass die Dienstleistungsbranchen ihre Arbeitskräfte letztlich auf demselben nationalen Arbeitsmarkt rekrutieren müssen wie Sektoren mit schnellem Produktivitätswachstum, zum Beispiel Finanzen, Produktion und Informationstechnologie. Obwohl das Arbeitskräfteangebot vielleicht etwas segmentiert ist, gibt es genug Überschneidungen, so dass die dienstleistungsintensiven Branchen gezwungen werden, höhere Löhne zu zahlen, jedenfalls langfristig.

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