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The Sciences

More school, more work

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanSeptember 5, 2010 9:11 PM


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Tomorrow is Labor Day in the USA. I was actually shocked to realize last week that the USA has a higher unemployment rate than many European nations. I grew up in the 1990s when we were conditioned to assume that Europe would always have higher structural unemployment for a variety of reasons. In any case, I decided to look at some employment-related data in Google Public Data Explorer. Below on the x-axis are the employment rates for a selected number of nations over time, and on the y-axis the employment rates for the 15-24 age group. The employment rate in the first case is simply the proportion in the age range 15-64 who are in employment. Note the change in the relationship of the two values over time. I've highlighted the USA, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, and Mexico, to show you their movement across the grid. Let's limit the x-axis to women only: I think what you're obviously seeing are two general trends: women entering the labor market and the transition from the single-income household to the two-income household, as well as a balance in the younger age brackets through the fact that many more youth are pursuing higher education. So the y-axis is more stable, as the shift toward females in the labor market is balanced by a higher proportion going to university. The changes in some nations like the Netherlands are really striking.

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