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Perspectives for the Lisbon Strategy: How to increase the competitiveness of the European economy?


The main message of this contribution is that lean times are here to stay for the old member states. The main reasons are deep seated: Deteriorating demographics continue with ratio of working age population to total population falling. There are thus fewer and fewer producers for every consumer and recipient of transfers. On top of this productivity growth is declining as labour quality is falling and investment growth slowing. In the new member countries the demographic trends also unfavourable, but they are (more than) compensated by catch up growth as a relatively well educated work force finds its place in the internal market.

What does this diagnosis imply for the role of structural policies? No Lisbon agenda change demographics trends, nor can it change the declining capital/labour ratio due to insufficient investment growth. But structural reforms might counteract the impact of these two negative trends. Moreover, the performance gap between big and small member countries suggests that policy can make a difference.