El espejismo del desempleo juvenil

PARÍSLos economistas de todo el mundo necesitan formas mejores de cifrar la actividad económica. Al depender de las tasas de crecimiento del PIB para evaluar la salud económica, a casi todos ellos se les escaparon las señales que avisaban de la crisis financiera de 2008, incluida una burbuja inmobiliaria de ocho billones de dólares en los Estados Unidos, además de burbujas inmobiliarias en España, Irlanda y el Reino Unido. Junto con las familias, las entidades financieras, los inversores y los gobiernos, los economistas se dejaron arrastrar por la euforia financiera que propició una exposición excesiva al riesgo y un grave apalancamiento excesivo de los bancos y las familias. Incluso los desequilibrios macroeconómicos de la zona del euro pasaron inadvertidos.

Los cálculos del desempleo son también sorprendentemente engañosos, problema grave, si tenemos en cuenta que, junto con los indicadores del PIB, sobre el desempleo versan tantos debates relativos a la política económica. Un desempleo escandalosamente elevado –supuestamente próximo al 50 por ciento en España y Grecia y más del 20 por ciento en la zona del euro en conjunto– aparece en los titulares diariamente, pero esas cifras son consecuencia de una metodología defectuosa, que hace parecer la situación mucho peor de lo que es.

El problema se debe a cómo se cifra el desempleo: la tasa de desempleo de los adultos se calcula dividiendo el número de personas desempleadas por todas las personas que componen la fuerza laboral. Así, pues, si ésta se compone de 200 trabajadores y 20 están desempleados, la tasa de desempleo es del diez por ciento.

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