Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
Although the standard of living of Europeans gradually caught up with that of the Americans in the three decades after World War II, it would appear that the trend has dipped since the 1980s. Economic growth in Europe has stagnated, whereas growth has continued in the United States, despite events such as the bursting of the high-tech bubble, and September 11th. Is the decline of Europe compared with the United States unavoidable? What are the reasons for it?
Alain Villemeur describes the different paths taken by the two major Western blocs. He disentangles the reasons normally given to explain the poor results achieved in Europe (inflation, high interest rates, less flexible markets, industrial decline...) and challenges their validity in the light of the remarkable counter-example provided by the Netherlands.
In his view, the key to economic recovery in Europe lies in the investment countries are prepared to make in innovation and knowledge, and the way that innovations are achieved and implemented. What matters most now is to give priority to innovations in products (which means investing in research aimed at developing new products and services) rather than in processes (i.e. attempting to improve or copy innovations in existing products). It is a European country, Sweden, that provides the model for this approach.
For Alain Villemeur, the only means of reversing the economic decline of Europe over the last 20 years lies in combining strong support for research and development and innovation (on the Swedish model) with close control of wage costs (as in the Netherlands), and ensuring that this strategy applies also to the new members of the European Union.
Societies Facing an Ageing Population. The Challenge of Employment after 45
A year after France re-embarked on reforming pensions in order to cope with an ageing population and the large numbers of baby boomers who will retire in the next few years, it is a safe bet that nothing will be sorted out as regards the social implications of an ageing population. Indeed, as Anne-Marie Guillemard points out in this article, ageing affects every aspect of life in industrialized countries (ways of working, leisure time, life cycle, etc.), and to carry out a reform of pensions without including a section devoted to employment will not resolve the problem as a whole.
In this article, Anne-Marie Guillemard examines the key issue of employment and, in particular, how the work of older people is handled, comparing the situations in the main industrialized countries. After showing how the activity rates of workers over 45 years of age have changed over the last 30 years in these countries (basically the members of the European Union, the United States and Japan), which brings out clearly the differences in the way that work in the second half of professional life is managed, the author offers a typology of employment and social protection policies and cultural attitudes to age, and she discusses the impact of these institutional arrangements on the activity of older workers - activity which must be increased in an ageing society.
In France and, more generally, continental Europe there is a culture of early withdrawal of older workers from the labour market, which results in lower activity rates and yet does not resolve the problems of unemployment. These countries will need to undergo a real "cultural revolution" if they are to reverse this trend and adopt policies closer to those found in Scandinavia. The author reckons that in fact the Finnish "plan for employment for those over 45" could be taken as a model and would promote lifelong learning and training courses for those in work as well as encouraging older people to work. This would require an interventionist employment policy, drawn up with the agreement of all the social partners concerned, and would mean taking a long-term view of the life cycle with the aim of maintaining people's skills and employability throughout their working lives.
European countries have gradually stopped manufacturing less sophisticated goods (clothing, shoes, etc.), which are now produced instead in developing countries, especially in Asia. The latter have shot ahead: total manufacturing output in the Euro zone grew by 13% between 1991 and 2003, whereas it grew by between 50% and 450% in the developing economies of Asia and Central Europe. The countries of Western Europe are therefore seriously threatened by this growth - how are they reacting?
Patrick Artus examines four cases here: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain. The first two specialize mainly in the manufacture of machinery, the other two in nothing in particular. After analysing the trade balance of each country and the structure of employment by sector, Artus argues that Germany has maintained a high level of productivity growth, by contrast with France and Spain, where productivity has declined, unlike the United Kingdom.
This reveals two contrasting approaches, Patrick Artus concludes: one favouring short-term growth (Spain) as against one where the specialization strategy allows improvements in productivity that lead to economic growth over the longer term (Germany, UK).
In 2002, per capita GDP (gross domestic product) in France and the European Union was roughly 25% below that of the United States. Per capita GDP is related to several factors: hourly productivity rates, average working hours and the employment rates. In France, hourly productivity rates are very high, but working hours and the employment rates are low.
This explanation does not hold when the facts are examined, argues Cette, since productivity in general appears to fall as working time increases, hence less is produced in the 36th hour than in the 35th, and this is even more true concerning the employment rates, especially those of young people and workers aged over 50 which are particularly low in Europe, especially in France. Gilbert Cette points up this argument with the help of a comparison between the "observed" and the "structural" hourly productivity rates, with the latter distinctly higher in the United States than in Europe and Japan.
He shows that, ultimately, the improvement in productivity in the United States and the decline in Europe is largely due to the growth and, above all, the spread of information and communications technologies. However, for this to have the greatest multiplier effect, there must be not only an appropriate level of investment but also greater flexibility in the markets for goods and labour.
This article implicitly raises an important question about the balance to be struck between productivity and numbers in work, which is a real issue for society to decide.
Cet exercice de prévision réalisé par le Bureau d'informations et de prévisions économiques (BIPE) pour la Direction de l'évaluation et de la prospective du ministère français de l'Éducation établit, selon différents scénarios macroéconomiques, des prévisions de besoins en recrutement de jeunes à l'horizon 2015, besoins ensuite déclinés par niveau de diplôme. Différentes hypothèses sont introduites, portant sur le rythme de croissance économique (1,5 % ou 2 % par an) ; sur l'importance de la mobilité promotionnelle des ...
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L'entrée dans l'Union européenne des 10 pays entrants, le 1er mai 2004, ne ferme pas le chantier de l'élargissement : l'adoption de l'euro sera la prochaine étape de l'intégration des nouveaux membres. Ceci leur impose de respecter les critères définis dans le traité de Maastricht, et en particulier de participer au SME (système monétaire européen) bis pendant au moins deux années. Cette exigence est une source importante d'incertitude, car la convergence économique ne s ...
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In this article, Philippe Delalande describes China's principal features as a world economic power and the ways in which it represents a real threat to the major industrialized countries, above all Europe and the United States.
In his view, the honeymoon period that has prevailed so far between these countries and China could end sooner than expected. China has enjoyed such rapid economic growth and has proved to be so steadfastly independent - for instance in the way it has managed its currency or satisfied the requirements negotiated when it joined the World Trade Organization - that it has been engaged in a number of power struggles with its partners and competitors. The outcome of these conflicts will not necessarily make everyone happy.
With economic growth running at around 8% per annum for over 20 years, China is often in the headlines of the Western media. The emergence of this demographic giant on the world economic stage and its greater involvement in geopolitics, after years of choosing to remain aloof, have raised considerable concerns - which are not absurd, given the size of this new competitor. Furthermore, increasing numbers of multinational firms (sometimes based in the United States or Europe) are choosing to relocate their manufacturing activities to China, where labour is cheap and little social protection is provided. China seems to be in the process of becoming the factory for the rest of the world.
Does this mean that its future is settled and China's place among the great industrialized nations is guaranteed? Will China stay on this steep growth path in spite of its authoritarian political regime? Are there not risks of major tensions developing? What are these risks and what might happen if they materialize?
Such questions are among those raised in this special number of Futuribles devoted to China. The articles have been assembled by the members of Asie 21, a study group focussed on the future of Asia that has been meeting for several years under the aegis of the Futuribles group.
In the first article, Michel Jan provides a general overview of the Chinese situation and its prospects between now and 2020 or 2025. He starts with the country's growth targets for the next 20 years, as well as the possible consequences, especially in the social and political spheres, if they are in fact achieved. He then discusses the various strategic choices faced by the Chinese leadership if the country is to maintain its position, in particular if it opens up to the outside world. Lastly, Michel Jan suggests several scenarios for its future, ranging from "more of the same" to some degree of democratisation, as well as the possibility of collapse; the most likely, in his view, is for the present situation to continue (i.e. the country tightly controlled by an authoritarian regime), punctuated by moments of "social respite" which will be essential to prevent everything from imploding but not enough to allow China to regain its dominant economic position for many years.
Experts in local development are obsessed by the apparent recent growth of competition among regions to attract productive activities. According to Laurent Davezies, they are focussing on the wrong aim: "what matters for the development of a given region is not to produce as much wealth as possible but to tap into as much consumer spending as possible".
The author argues that France is witnessing a growing divergence between the areas where things are produced as against those where they are consumed, as a result in particular of the amount of time spent not working and the places where we spend our leisure, which are quite separate from those where we work.
The areas where people go for their leisure time and as consumers (both being activities that incidentally stimulate local economies) are far more dynamic and attractive - in part thanks to the injection of public funds - than metropolitan areas (starting with the Paris region), where the quality of life is declining.
Laurent Davezies's conclusion is that the French are tending to move to regions that are more attractive for residential purposes, which means above all those focussing on consumption.
In 2003 Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001 for his work on the consequences of imperfect information in a competitive economic system, published The Roaring Nineties. A New History of the World's Most Prosperous Decade (New York: Norton & Co, pp. 256), another partisan view, this time of Western economic policies from the 1990s onwards. Basing his arguments on specific economic mechanisms, he attacks the free market approach, setting out to debunk some of the "myths" (as he calls them) underlying American capitalism: the invisible hand, the obsession with reducing deficits, the beneficial impact of wars, etc.
The economist Michel Drancourt offers a critical review of the French translation of the book (Quand le capitalisme perd la tête, Paris: Fayard, 2003, pp. 418), which shows that the disagreements between Keynesians and their opponents are far from over.
Ce rapport, au titre en forme de paradoxe, s'intéresse aux relations entre mondialisation et environnement, " deux termes qui recouvrent, à n'en pas douter, deux enjeux majeurs du siècle qui s'ouvre ", afin de montrer qu'il n'y a pas d'opposition irréductible entre eux. On évoque souvent le risque de dumping environnemental engendré par la libéralisation des échanges. Le rapport reconnaît un certain nombre de cas (les États-Unis ont délocalisé au Mexique leur production de solvants ou ...
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Le BLS observe l'évolution de l'emploi et des professions aux États-Unis depuis plus de 50 ans. Selon ses dernières projections, qui couvrent la période 2002-2012, l'emploi total devrait augmenter de près de 1,4 % par an en moyenne, soit 21,3 millions d'emplois supplémentaires, un rythme toutefois inférieur à celui de la décennie précédente (1,6 %). De plus, le nombre de postes à pourvoir pour répondre aux besoins de remplacement liés aux départs en retraite serait ...
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In the United States and in Europe, increasing numbers of business executives are on trial, accused of fraud or, more precisely, of having artificially inflated the value of their stocks and having thereby betrayed the trust of their partners.
Drawing from a study carried out by Futuribles, André-Yves Portnoff points out that one of the principal responsibilities of senior executives should be to maintain a balance between the interests of shareholders and those of the other groups concerned: customers, workforce, suppliers, etc. He stresses how much capitalism is likely to suffer as a result of these practices, which are motivated solely by the lure of short-term financial gain, and of a lack of a collective moral stance which would sustain values that are far more important for business performance in the medium and long term.
Comme chaque année, la délégation du Sénat pour la planification présente les perspectives de l'économie et des finances publiques françaises à moyen terme (2005-2009), à partir d'un jeu de simulations macroéconomiques. Le premier chapitre explore les voies d'une « croissance autonome » de l'économie française à l'horizon 2009. Un scénario de croissance à 2,5 % par an suppose, selon le rapport, deux conditions : un environnement international favorable, des comportements de dépenses des agents privés particulièrement dynamiques, ainsi ...
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Cette étude enquête sur les circonstances scientifiques, économiques et politiques qui ont favorisé le développement des organismes génétiquement modifiés (OGM). Elle dresse également une liste de comparaisons possibles entre ce que l'on a appelé la « révolution verte » des années 1960-1970 et ce qui pourrait être une « révolution génétique ». Selon les auteurs, si les deux événements ont accru le rendement et la qualité des cultures, la révolution génétique risque bien de ne pas avoir lieu à cause des barrières imposées ...
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En comparaison internationale, la France a un faible taux d'emploi, et ceci recouvre essentiellement un « déficit » d'emplois dans les services. En effet, au cours des dernières décennies, la baisse de l'emploi industriel n'a pas été plus marquée en France que chez ses partenaires ; en revanche, la création d'emploi dans les services a été plus limitée Par ailleurs, l'exemple américain montre que l'expansion de certains services peut s'accompagner de gains de productivité élevés ...
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La Situation mondiale de l'alimentation et de l'agriculture 2003-2004 examine dans quelle mesure les biotechnologies agricoles - notamment les cultures transgéniques - peuvent contribuer à satisfaire les besoins des plus démunis. La conclusion de la FAO est que les biotechnologies agricoles sont capables de réduire la dépendance à l'égard de produits chimiques toxiques employés en agriculture, de réduire les coûts de production pour les agriculteurs, d'améliorer la teneur nutritive des aliments et d'améliorer l'efficacité de la ...
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Chaque année, la FAO dresse un bilan des progrès accomplis et des revers subis dans la poursuite de l'objectif fixé par 185 nations et l'Union européenne au sommet mondial de l'alimentation en 1996 : réduire de moitié, d'ici 2015, le nombre de personnes souffrant de la faim dans le monde. La dernière édition du SOFI (State of Food Insecurity) fait état de quelque 852 millions de personnes souffrant de malnutrition chronique dans le monde aujourd'hui. Plus ...
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Cet article présente l'exercice de construction de scénarios réalisé en novembre 2002, lors d'une conférence sur l'avenir des régions européennes organisée par le think-tank allemand Scenario Management International (ScMI). La méthode utilisée est longuement développée. Tout d'abord, trois grandes questions ont servi de cadre à la réflexion : la première portait sur la vitesse de l'intégration européenne, la deuxième sur la survie des cultures régionales, la troisième sur le dynamisme de l'innovation technologique au sein ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.