In a column today, titled, "Is Egypt Hopeless?", Dan Henninger suggests another measure of nations’ competitiveness: the percentage of the population employed by the state.
Egypt isn't just a sad story of political oppression. Egypt is an object lesson for other nations, including ours, struggling to produce enough jobs for young workers.
While Egypt has floundered, some have noted that Turkey's economy has flourished, notwithstanding a strong Islamic presence in both countries. How come?
…In Egypt, the percentage of the working population employed by the state is 35%. In Turkey, it's 13%.
One is tempted to ask: What more do you need to know?
…The economic literature is vast on the smothering effects of large, inefficient public sectors. If Egypt is now exhibit A for these studies in torpid economies, then exhibits B, C, D and E would be Jordan, Yemen, Tunisia and Algeria, the other nations that erupted the past several weeks. In Jordan nearly 50% of the employed population works for the state...
Korea, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and even China (at 8.3%) have low public employment as a percentage of total population. In Singapore, it's less than 3%. Also on the list, below 15%, are Colombia, Peru and Chile, three of South America's strongest economies. A low number doesn't guarantee strong growth, but a high number probably kills it…
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in the U.S., 16% of all workers are directly employed by government -- 107 mil. in the private sector, compared to 22 mil. in government.
Worse than Turkey and Columbia, but at least better than Egypt!