Chapter 3: Europe in the triad: growth pattern and structural changes
Pascal Petit1 This chapter aims to assess the main features of structural changes, economic growth and employment in Europe as a whole when compared with economies of comparable magnitude such as the USA and Japan. All three entities of this triad had very contrasting experiences, whether during the two decades of sustained growth of the postwar period or during the period of slower growth of the last two decades. In the postwar period, Europe and Japan featured as successful models of economic growth enjoying growth and full employment. Meanwhile, the US economy appeared as a more slowly growing economy with a relatively high level of unemployment. In fact, the USA was also experiencing during this period relatively high rates of economic growth, if considered in a historical perspective (see Maddison, 1991), while conversely economic growth in Europe and Japan was at the time especially boosted by a process of catching up. The picture changed markedly in the course of the last two decades. In the context of a general slowdown of the OECD economies, and after the erratic ups and downs of a period of transition in the 1980s, the USA experienced in the late 1990s the highest economic growth rate among the large economies as well as the longest upswing phase in peacetime in its history. Meanwhile, Europe and, more recently, Japan experienced a marked slow growth with mass unemployment in the case of Europe and a new meaningful level of unemployment in Japan. Moreover, during these last two...
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