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Porcher, Simon

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Le Nouvel Observateur - France | 20/07/2011

France's problem is not 35-hour week

The conservative UMP party of French President Nicolas Sarkozy has attacked the socialist presidential candidate Martine Aubry for the 35-hour week which she introduced at the end of the 1990s when she was minister for social affairs. But this criticism goes in the wrong direction, explains economist Simon Porscher in the left-liberal weekly Le Nouvel Observateur: "What counts is not so much the working hours as productivity. [Sarkozy's] slogan 'Work more for more pay' is therefore false at an individual level because the amount of pay you receive depends on your qualifications, experience and the productivity of the sector in which you work. If our ten percent unemployed return to the labour market, our senior citizens continue working and the youth find jobs after university, we as a nation will be working more and earning more. Then all these untapped resources will be producing, consuming and saving. It's too easy to criticise the 35-hour week and avoid the real problems of the job market and education policies in France."

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