miércoles, 20 de junio de 2018

Poll: If You’re Over 50 in Florida, Chances Are You Like Trump


In 2016, a majority of voters were 50 and older. This decisive voting bloc will be key to determining the balance of power in Washington this November.

In 2018, Florida hosts a contentious Senate election as well as many key House races. We polled voters aged 50 and older in Florida about their lives, President Trump and Congress to get a sense of how they might vote.

Here’s what we learned.
50+ voters approve of Trump

Approve 52%

No Opinion 4%

Disapprove 44%

Younger generations disapprove of Trump
Do you approve or disapprove of the job Donald Trump is doing as President?
Strongly approve
Somewhat approve
Don't Know / No Opinion
Somewhat disapprove
Strongly disapprove
All Registered Voters
Gen Z: Age 18-21

Millennials: Age 22-37

Gen X: Age 38-53

Boomers: Age 54-72

50+ voters prefer Republicans in the midterms

Democrat 36%

No Opinion 23%

Republican 41%

Younger generations prefer Democrats
If the election for U.S. Congress in your district was held today, which one of the following candidates are you most likely to vote for?
Democratic candidate
Don't Know / No Opinion
Republican candidate
All Registered Voters
Gen Z: Age 18-21

Millennials: Age 22-37

Gen X: Age 38-53

Boomers: Age 54-72

50+ women less approving of health care policy than men
Do you approve or disapprove of the way President Trump is handling health care?
Strongly approve
Somewhat approve
Don't Know / No Opinion
Somewhat disapprove
Strongly disapprove
Registered Voters 50+
Democratic Men

Democratic Women

Independent Men

Independent Women

Republican Men

Republican Women

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Congress is handling health care?
Registered Voters 50+
Democratic Men

Democratic Women

Independent Men

Independent Women

Republican Men

Republican Women

Voters split over why health care costs are rising
Which of the following do you think is most responsible for rising health care costs in the United States?
Health care insurance companies focusing on profits more than peoples health
Waste, fraud and abuse
Drug companies charging too much for medications
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare
Doctors and other providers taking advantage of the system
Hospitals taking advantage of the system
An aging U.S. population
Don't Know / No Opinion
Unnecessary treatments and over-testing
Rural voters less confident in availability of public services
Availability of Medicare
Very confident
Somewhat confident
Don't Know / No Opinion
Not too confident
Not confident at all
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Availability of Social Security
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Availability of Medicaid
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Availability of housing assistance
Registered Voters 50+
Urban Voters

Suburban Voters

Rural Voters

Lower-income voters think personal financial situation is worse
Over the last two years, has your personal financial situation...
Gotten better
Stayed about the same
Gotten worse
Don't Know / No Opinion
Registered Voters 50+
Under $50k


Over $100k

Lower-income voters less confident they will be able to afford retirement
How confident are you that you will have enough money for retirement?
Very confident
Somewhat confident
Don't Know / No Opinion
Not too confident
Not at all confident
Registered Voters 50+
Under $50k


Over $100k

Methodology: The poll was conducted May 29-30, 2018, surveying 1,199 registered voters in Florida, including an oversample of 653 voters aged 50 and older. Interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters in Florida based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, and educational attainment. Overall results from the survey have a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, and plus or minus four percentage points for the oversample of older voters.

Koch network raps Trump, won't support House immigration bills

The House immigration bills "expected to receive a vote fall short of the solution we need,” said Daniel Garza, president of the Koch network's LIBRE Initiative.


The political network founded by the Koch brothers is taking a stand against both President Donald Trump’s policy toward separating families at the border and two immigration bills due for votes in the House this week, dealing a blow to GOP leaders who are marshaling support for their version.

“It’s encouraging that the House will have a debate this week on immigration bills that include protections for the Dreamers," said Daniel Garza, president of the Koch network's LIBRE Initiative, referring to a group of undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children. "Unfortunately, in their current form, both [House leadership’s bill and an alternative immigration bill] expected to receive a vote fall short of the solution we need.”

Garza also called on Trump to “take immediate action to end the separation of families at the border by rescinding the ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”

The Kochs’ push for a more moderate approach toward immigration legislation complicates the thorny debate in Washington. Lawmakers have called on Trump to stop his administration from splitting up immigrant families, which has drawn public outrage since he implemented a zero tolerance policy of prosecuting everyone who crosses the border illegally. Trump has refused to act alone, saying Congress needs to pass immigration legislation.

The Koch brothers have pushed the Republican Party to create a path to citizenship for Dreamers, who were extended protections under the Obama administration that Trump has tried to withdraw. The Kochs also have urged the GOP not to make severe cuts to the flow of immigrants into the country, even launching a seven-figure ad buy supporting their efforts.

House Republicans were coalescing around an immigration bill supported by House leadership that would, among other things, give some protections to Dreamers. Its path forward was already complicated: Trump blasted the measure last week, but later Tuesday he was expected to travel to Capitol Hill to rally Republicans behind it.

The Kochs' opposition to the GOP leadership bill could make it even more difficult for House Speaker Paul Ryan to unite his caucus behind it. Conservatives favor a second bill, also due for a vote this week, from Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Garza said in a statement that “it’s clear there’s strong support in Congress and among the American people to provide permanency to the Dreamers,” but neither bill “affords the Dreamers the certainty they need to make a full contribution to American communities,” and both “include arbitrary cuts to legal immigration.”

Trump dreams the impossible: Winning Minnesota

A growing urban-rural divide has put the state on the president’s radar.


Donald Trump arrives in Minnesota ahead of his only campaign rally in the state in 2016. He narrowly lost it to Hillary Clinton, and if he wants to flip it in 2020, he will need to sustain large majorities in the state’s northeastern Iron Range.
The last Republican presidential candidate to win Minnesota was Richard Nixon nearly a half century ago, sweeping the famously populist state on his way to one of the largest landslides in U.S. history.

Now, President Donald Trump, who finished fewer than 45,000 votes behind Hillary Clinton in Minnesota despite a threadbare effort that saw him visit the state only once, is intent on mining an urban-rural divide to capture the state in 2020.

It’s an ambitious expansion of the electoral map but Trump last summer confided to aides and state GOP officials in an Oval Office meeting that he regretted not campaigning more aggressively in Minnesota, suggesting he would have won had he held a second rally there. In the months since, Republicans have come to see the state Democratic Party’s increasing embrace of liberal candidates and policies as an opening for them to attract voters from rural, outstate districts who may be pro-union, and support abortion or gun rights.

“Whereas a lot of people around the country look at 2016 as, ‘wow, we really accomplished something,’” said Chris Hupke, a 2016 senior adviser to Trump in Minnesota, “(party activists) are viewing it as just the beginning.”

The latest sign of Trump’s growing optimism to turn the state red comes tonight, when he travels to Duluth to rally supporters of Republican Pete Stauber in one of the nation’s most competitive congressional districts. Organizers moved the event to a larger venue as demand for tickets soared, after the president’s campaign signaled it would make a serious play for the state in 2020.

“I think his campaign and his team realize there are incredible opportunities in this state to support his agenda,” Minnesota Republican Party Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan told POLITICO. “I do believe we will deliver our state to him in 2020.”

Electoral shifts within the state — among rural and blue-collar voters — may bode well for the president’s party in the midterms. Minnesota, which will have an open race for governor and two Senate contests, has two of the four congressional districts nationwide that experienced the largest swings from Mitt Romney in 2008 to Trump in 2016.

Overall, Trump won 78 of the state’s 87 counties. While Clinton hung on statewide, boosted by the population-rich Minneapolis-St. Paul area, she also alienated rural voters, some of whom still chafe at her “basket of deplorables” remark describing half of Trump’s supporters — her vote total was nearly 180,000 votes behind Barack Obama in 2012.

“You often hear about ‘Minnesota Nice,’” said Patti Anderson, a Republican former state auditor now running for a seat in the legislature, referring to the stereotype used to describe people in her state who present as courteous, reserved and mild-mannered. “But that was really offensive — to anyone, I think. When you say (deplorables,) that’s you talking about us, or our brothers or our uncles.”

In the legislature that year, Republicans expanded on the House majority they captured in 2014, while also narrowly winning the majority in the state Senate. The GOP flipped seats in rural areas like Willmar, Albert Lea and Fairview Township, which had swung between Republicans and “old-school,” lunch-bucket Democrats, now a shrinking breed, said Ben Golnik, a GOP strategist in St. Paul.

Minnesota Republicans believe Democrats are becoming out of step with the electorate by advocating progressive policies like single-payer health care, driver‘s licenses for unauthorized immigrants and liberal refugee resettlement rules.

“The DFL is being run by Minneapolis-St. Paul uber-liberals,” Golnik said.

These Republicans also think the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, as Democrats are known in Minnesota, dug itself a deeper hole when activists made their midterm endorsements this month.

Democrats selected liberal state Rep. Erin Murphy for governor. Her running mate, first-term state Rep. Erin Maye Quade, a former aide to Rep. Keith Ellison, will be the first openly LGBT candidate for statewide office, and is known for speaking out against sexual harassment at the Capitol and leading a sit-in to push for votes on gun-control bills. The endorsement of the Murphy-Quade ticket came at the expense of two candidates, state Auditor Rebecca Otto and retiring Rep. Tim Walz, who is supported by numerous trades unions and the statewide teachers union.

Anderson and others said she viewed the move as Democrats turning their backs on working people, a constituency courted by Trump. She predicted he would benefit from the state’s populist streak.

“We elected (Independent) Jesse Ventura (as governor,)” she said. “We elected, and reelected, (U.S. Sen.) Paul Wellstone, not necessarily because of his liberal politics, but because he was honest. He said what he meant.”

Republicans, meantime, endorsed pro-Trump Jeff Johnson over GOP former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who called then-candidate Trump “unsound, uninformed, unhinged and unfit,” before the election. More recently, Pawlenty said he ultimately backed the party’s nominee in 2016 and since has spoken approvingly of the policies pursued by the White House.

The outcome of the GOP’s August primary could be a factor for Trump in two years.

“Tim’s got to make up his own mind about how supportive he is going to be,” Johnson told MARCA POLITICA. “For us to win in Minnesota, we need our base to show up; and we need to win over some of the new voters that Trump won in 2016.”

If Trump can flip Minnesota in 2020, he will need to sustain large majorities on northeastern Minnesota’s Iron Range, including in the 8th Congressional District, which presents a rare pickup opportunity for the GOP this year with the Democratic incumbent, Rep. Rick Nolan, leaving office.

“I think the president, the intensity for President Trump is really high in our 8th Congressional District,” said Stauber, a St. Louis county commissioner and the leading Republican in the race.

Stauber said Trump called him in March and asked, “What can I do to help?” Given enthusiasm for Trump in the district, Stauber said, he asked him to visit. Trump carried the historically Democratic, largely rural district by 15 percentage points in 2016.

While Republicans point to the Trump lawn signs and bumper stickers and the proliferation of red “Make America Great Again” hats that bob up and down on the heads of Minnesota boaters like buoys, Mike Erlandson, a former chairman of the DFL, said he considers the Trump factor in Minnesota “relatively strong, but very unpredictable.”

“It’s not a surprise that the president’s coming to Minnesota to do some campaigning, and he’s picking a district that he was probably as popular in as anywhere in the state in the last election,” Erlandson said.

However, he added, “He’s coming early (in the election cycle,) and maybe he’s coming early because there are members of the Republican Party who I would guess would rather have him come early, do his thing, and not remind voters again later in the process.”

For his part, Stauber said Trump has only improved his prospects in the state since taking office: “His pro-job, pro-growth agenda is helping us all, and the tax cut and jobs act, just in the 8th Congressional District, on average, $1,733 for the average taxpayer,” Stauber said. “That’s real money.”

Democrats are seizing on the visit to ramp up organizing in the state and to fuel their own campaigns, with a rush of Democrats tying fundraising appeals to Trump’s appearance.

In an email Friday on behalf of Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote, “Donald Trump barely lost Minnesota in 2016 — so now Republican operatives across the country are telling their billionaire donors the same thing: If we dump truckloads of money into Minnesota, this could be our chance to win.”

She wrote, “We can’t let that happen.”

Democratic activists are preparing to march and rally in Duluth during Trump’s appearance. Emily Nygren, chairwoman of the local DFL, said Trump’s election has propelled more young people and progressives to participate in politics in the district.

“We’re still a very strong union district, and we’ve got really great, strong values that align very well with the DFL party,” she said. “We’re working really hard.”

martes, 19 de junio de 2018

How Democratic Is the Euro?

Michele Tantussi 

If the European Union is to remain viable and democratic at the same time, policymakers will have to pay closer attention to the demanding requirements of delegating decisions to unelected bodies. They should promote such a delegation of sovereignty only when it truly enhances the long-term performance of their democracies.

 When Italy’s president recently vetoed the appointment of the Euroskeptic Paolo Savona as finance minister in the government proposed by the Five Star Movement-League party alliance, did he safeguard or undermine his country’s democracy? Beyond constitutional strictures specific to the Italian context, the question goes to the heart of democratic legitimacy. The difficult issues it raises need to be addressed in a principled and appropriate manner if our liberal democracies are to be restored to their health.

The euro represents a treaty commitment from which there is no clear exit within prevailing rules of the game. President Sergio Mattarella and his defenders point out that an exit from the euro had not been subject to debate in the election campaign that brought the populist coalition to power, and that Savona’s appointment threatened a financial market meltdown and economic chaos. Mattarella’s detractors argue that he overstepped his authority and has allowed financial markets to veto the selection of a minister by a popularly elected government.

By joining the euro, Italy surrendered monetary sovereignty to an external, independent decision-maker, the European Central Bank. It also undertook specific commitments with respect to the conduct of its fiscal policy, though these constraints are not as “hard” as those framing monetary policy. These obligations place real limits on the Italian authorities’ macroeconomic policy choices. In particular, the absence of a domestic currency means Italians cannot choose their own inflation target or devalue their currency vis-à-vis foreign currencies. They also have to keep their fiscal deficits below certain ceilings.

Such external restraints on policy action need not conflict with democracy. Sometimes it makes sense for the electorate to tie its hands when doing so helps it achieve better outcomes. Hence the principle of “democratic delegation”: Democracies can enhance their performance by delegating aspects of decision-making to independent agencies.

The canonical case for democratic delegation arises when there is a paramount need for credible commitment to a particular course of action. Monetary policy is perhaps the clearest instance of this. Many economists subscribe to the view that central banks can generate output and employment gains through expansionary monetary policy only if they are able to produce surprise inflation in the short run. But, because expectations adjust to central bank behavior, discretionary monetary policy is futile: it yields higher inflation but no output or employment increases. Accordingly, it is far better to insulate monetary policy from political pressures by delegating it to technocratic, independent central banks that are charged with the singular objective of price stability.

Superficially, the euro and the ECB can be seen as the solution to this inflationary conundrum in the European context. They protect the Italian electorate from their politicians’ counterproductive inflationary tendencies. But there are peculiarities to the European situation that make the democratic delegation argument more suspect.

For one thing, the ECB is an international institution, bearing responsibility for monetary policy for the eurozone as a whole rather than Italy alone. As a result, it will be generally less responsive to Italian economic circumstances than a purely Italian, but equally independent central bank would have been. This problem is aggravated by the fact that the ECB chooses its own inflation target, which was last defined in 2003 as “below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.”

It is difficult to justify the delegation of the inflation target itself to unelected technocrats. When some countries in the eurozone are hit by adverse demand shocks, the target determines the extent of painful wage and price deflation these countries must undergo to readjust. The lower the target, the more deflation they must bear. There was a good economic argument for the ECB to have lifted its inflation target following the euro crisis to facilitate competitiveness adjustments in Southern Europe. Insulation from political accountability was probably a bad thing in this case.

As Paul Tucker, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, discusses in his masterful recent book Unelected Power: The Quest for Legitimacy in Central Banking and the Administrative State, the argument for democratic delegation is a subtle one. The distinction between policy goals and how they are implemented needs to be clear. Insofar as they entail distributional consequences or tradeoffs between contending goals (employment versus price stability, for example), policy objectives have to be determined through politics. Delegation is warranted at best in the conduct of policy that serves politically determined objectives. Tucker argues, correctly, that few independent agencies are based on a careful application of principles that would pass the test of democratic legitimacy.1

This shortcoming is far worse in the case of delegation to international agencies or treaties. Too often, international economic commitments serve not to fix democratic failures at home, but to privilege corporate or financial interests and undermine domestic social bargains. The European Union’s legitimacy deficit derives from the popular suspicion that its institutional arrangements have veered too far from the former to the latter. When Mattarella cited the reaction of financial markets in justifying his veto of Savona, he reinforced those suspicions.

If the euro – and indeed the EU itself – is to remain viable and democratic at the same time, policymakers will have to pay closer attention to the demanding requirements of delegating decisions to unelected bodies. This does not mean that they should resist surrendering sovereignty to supranational agencies at all costs. But they should recognize that economists’ and other technocrats’ policy preferences rarely endow policies with sufficient democratic legitimacy on their own. They should promote such a delegation of sovereignty only when it truly enhances the long-term performance of their democracies, not when it merely advances the interests of globalist elites.

lunes, 18 de junio de 2018

Young adults around the world are less religious by several measures

Adults under 40 are less likely to be religiously affiliated

Perhaps the simplest way to measure attachment to religion among people of all ages is to look at the percentage of people who identify with a religious group. Pew Research Center surveys around the world routinely ask: “What is your present religion, if any?” Respondents are given a country-specific list of potential responses (which generally include several major world religions, as well as “atheist,” “agnostic” or “nothing in particular”).

The vast majority of people around the world claim a religious identity, such as Christian, Muslim or Hindu. But there is a clear age gap: Out of 106 countries surveyed, young adults are significantly less likely to be affiliated with a religious group in 41. In only two countries are young adults more likely to identify with a religion, while there is no significant difference in 63 countries.

Looked at another way, young adults are more likely to be religiously unaffiliated. This is especially true in North America, where in both the U.S. and Canada younger people are less likely to claim a religious identity. (These findings are in line with the rise of the religious “nones” in the U.S., which is being driven largely by high levels of disaffiliation among young generations.) The gap is also prevalent in Europe – in 22 out of 35 countries – and in Latin America, where it applies in 14 out of 19 countries (including Mexico).

However, the pattern is not as pronounced in other parts of the world. In the Middle East-North Africa region and sub-Saharan Africa, where most people identify as either Muslim or Christian, there are no countries where young people are less affiliated. In fact, the only two countries out of a combined 30 in these regions with an affiliation gap are Chad and Ghana, where young adults are more likely than their elders to claim a religious affiliation – making these nations the only exceptions to the prevailing pattern around the world.

In the Asia-Pacific region, a religiously diverse area with a wide variety of religious practices, 17 out of 20 countries show no significant contrasts. However, the three nations in that region that do show differences – South Korea, Australia and Japan – have some of the world’s biggest gaps. In South Korea, 39% of younger adults are affiliated with a religious group, compared with 63% of their elders, a difference of 24 points. In Australia, the gap is 23 points (43% vs. 66%), and in Japan it is 18 points (31% vs. 49%). In many other countries in the region, such as Pakistan, India and Indonesia, affiliation is all but universal across both age groups.

There is a particularly large gap in religious affiliation – 28 percentage points – in Canada (49% of adults under 40 and 77% of older adults are affiliated). The U.S. differential is smaller, though still considerable at 17 points (66% vs. 83%).

In the average country out of 35 in Europe, there is a 10-point difference between the share of younger adults who identify with a religion (75%) and the share of older adults who do (85%), with the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden each showing gaps of 20 points or more. In the Latin America-Caribbean region, the average country has a gap of 6 points (87% vs. 93%), with Uruguay and the Dominican Republic exhibiting large differences.

Averaging the national percentages in each of the 106 countries surveyed yields a global picture that clearly reinforces the regional patterns: The share of younger adults in the average country worldwide who claim a religion is 85%, compared with 90% among people ages 40 or older. 16
Importance of religion: Older adults regard religion as less important in only two countries

Asking people about their affiliation is a basic way to measure a society’s overall attachment to religion. Asking respondents how important religion is in their lives goes one step further, and may be the most direct way to gauge the intensity of that connection. While this question does not directly measure any particular religious practice, it correlates well with more concrete measures – and also has an advantage in that it works equally well across many different religious groups, which is not the case for some specific measures of belief and practice.

Younger adults in many different parts of the world are less likely than their elders to say that religion is “very important” to them. This is a particularly prevalent theme in Latin America, where age gaps appear in 14 out of 19 countries. It is also common in Europe, where 19 out of 35 countries show significant gaps. The United States and Canada also post larger-than-average differences.

There are even significant age gaps in four out of nine countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region, where younger and older adults are almost universally affiliated.

In the Asia-Pacific region, there is no significant difference between age groups in 15 out of 20 countries surveyed, although – as on the affiliation question – South Korea and Japan again are among the countries where the young are less religious. And in sub-Saharan Africa, younger and older adults tend to give similar responses when asked about the importance of religion in most of the 21 countries surveyed.

Globally, adults under 40 are less likely to say that religion is very important in their lives in 46 out of 106 nations, while adults who are 40 or older are less likely to say this in only two countries. In 58 countries, there is no significant difference.

When the national percentages are averaged across all of the countries with available data, younger adults are 6 percentage points less likely than their elders to say religion is “very important” in their lives.

In Latin America, the average country has a gap of 10 points. While the average age gap in Europe is somewhat smaller (7 points), the region is home to two of the world’s biggest country-level gaps: Poland, where 16% of adults under 40 and 40% of older people say religion is very important to them, and Greece (41% vs. 63%). There is also a 7-point gap in the average Middle Eastern country, led by Lebanon (20-point gap) and Algeria (12 points).

In a couple of countries (Georgia and Ghana), the age gap goes against the global pattern; in these places, young adults are more religious than their elders by this measure. For example, in Ghana – where young adults are also more likely to be affiliated – 91% of younger adults say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 85% of older adults.

Looking at specific religious groups, half (50%) of younger Christians in the average country – in contrast to 56% of those in the older age group – say religion is very important in their lives. The gap between younger and older Muslims in the average country is 3 percentage points, with 76% of those under 40 and 79% of those ages 40 and older saying that religion is very important.

Viewed another way, in roughly half the countries where data are available on Christians (37 out of 78), young Christian adults are significantly less likely than older Christians to say religion is very important to them.

Muslims’ responses about the importance of religion in their lives show less of a consistent age gap. Young Muslims in 10 countries surveyed are less likely than their elders to ascribe a high level of importance to religion, while in 32 other countries, there is no significant difference.
Weekly religious service attendance: Young adults worship less often in both Christian and Muslim populations

Young adults are, on the whole, less likely than their elders to say they attend religious services every week.

Lower attendance among young adults is especially pervasive in Latin America, where it is seen in 17 out of 19 countries, and in North America, where both the U.S. and Canada show substantial gaps. The pattern also applies to more than half of the countries surveyed in the Middle East-North Africa region and in Europe.

Globally, younger adults are less likely to attend prayer services than their elders in 53 out of 102 countries surveyed, while the opposite is true in just three – Liberia, Rwanda and Armenia. Liberia is a major outlier by this measure; younger Liberians are much more likely than their older compatriots to say they worship at least weekly (85% vs. 66%). One reason for this could be that recent civil wars in Liberia may have affected levels of religious commitment differently among older and younger Liberians (for more on this theory, see sidebar below).

Unusual age patterns in religious commitment linked to violent conflict

While the general trend throughout the world is for younger people to enjoy more peace and prosperity than previous generations – forming the basis for one possible explanation for the persistent age gap in religious commitment – this is not always the case. In fact, the few countries where young adults are more religious than their elders all have something in common: a recent history of violent conflicts leading to civilian deaths.17

Any number of possible factors may explain these exceptional cases, and each country has its own set of unique circumstances. But it may be that conditions in these places were at least somewhat more stable when older adults were coming of age, and the existential insecurity experienced by younger adults explains why they are more religious. Indeed, research has found that religious identity is more likely to be influenced by events in early adulthood than later.18

In Liberia, younger adults are more likely than older adults to pray every day and attend weekly religious services. These age groups also differ in their affiliations: Younger Liberians are almost exclusively Christian or Muslim (96%), but a considerable minority of Liberians ages 40 and older (29%) identify with an ancestral, animist, tribal or other traditional African religion.19 Liberia has experienced two civil wars within the lifetimes of younger adults, one from 1989 to 1997 and the other from 1999 to 2003. The survey in Liberia was conducted in 2009; all adults under 40 in the survey would have been born after 1969, with most coming of age during wartime.

In addition, younger adults in Ghana – where clan-based violence over royal succession killed more than 2,000 people in the early 1990s – are more likely to be affiliated and to say that religion is very important. In Rwanda, where government forces and militias killed over 500,000 people and displaced millions in 1994, younger adults attend religious services more frequently than older adults. And in Chad, which has experienced violent conflicts involving the government, rebel groups and neighboring countries for decades, younger adults are more likely to identify with a religion and pray every day.

Not all of the examples are in Africa: Younger adults in Georgia say religion is very important to them more often than older adults do. Georgia has experienced a secessionist war in Abkhazia and a conflict with Russia in the past three decades, although the fall of the Soviet Union may also be a factor in religious differences by age. Older adults in Georgia mostly came of age during the Soviet period, when religion was repressed – including by Georgian-born leader Joseph Stalin.

At the same time, other countries have experienced conflict during the same period and do not show these types of patterns. In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Israel, for example, any differences in which younger adults may appear more religious are not statistically significant. And, in the Palestinian territories and the Democratic Republic of Congo, younger adults have experienced a great deal of armed conflict but still follow the prevailing global pattern of being less religious than their elders.

In the average country around the world, adults under 40 are 6 percentage points less likely than older people to say they go to worship services weekly (36% vs. 42%).

Again, by this measure, gap sizes vary by region. In sub-Saharan Africa, younger and older adults attend at similarly high rates (averages of 78% and 79%, respectively). But in the average country in the Middle East-North Africa region, just 44% of young adults say they are weekly attenders – well below the 55% average of those ages 40 and older who describe themselves this way. The average country’s age gap in worship attendance in this overwhelmingly Muslim region is similar to the one in the predominantly Christian Latin America region (38% vs. 48%) There also is a 6-point gap in the average country in the religiously diverse Asia-Pacific region (31% vs. 37%).

In Europe, weekly attendance is less common overall, but there is still an age gap (10% vs. 16%). And Poland stands out as having by far the largest gap among all countries surveyed: 26% of Polish adults under 40 say they attend religious services weekly, compared with 55% of their elders. The unusually large age gap in Poland may be due to the Catholic Church’s association with nationalism, Polish identity and resistance to the Soviet Union during Poland’s communist period; younger Poles did not experience this period firsthand, but it may have had a lasting impact among the older generation.20

Adults under 40 in Colombia, another predominantly Catholic country, also are much less likely than their elders to go to church regularly. And there are similar patterns in different religious contexts in the Muslim-majority countries of Iran, Jordan and Tunisia.

Indeed, at the global level, younger Muslims attend mosque less frequently, on average, than older Muslims, just as younger Christians attend church less often than older Christians.

Measuring religious observance by weekly attendance at worship services does not work equally well for all major religious groups. While it is generally a reliable measure of religious norms within Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), it may be less well suited for Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions.21

For Hindus, data are only available from the U.S.; the 11-point gap in weekly attendance between older and younger American Hindus is not necessarily representative of Hindus globally, since the vast majority of the world’s Hindus live in India.
Daily prayer: Large age gaps in the Americas

The generational divide in religious commitment is most apparent when examining daily prayer. Not only is it the measure with the highest number of countries with an age gap, but it is also the measure by which the average country has the biggest gap globally.

Young adults are less likely to pray daily in all 19 countries surveyed in Latin America, in both the U.S. and Canada, and in 27 out of 35 European countries. Gaps also exist in several countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the Middle East-North Africa region and sub-Saharan Africa. Overall, the pattern holds in 71 out of 105 countries surveyed.

In the U.S., 44% of young adults engage in daily prayer, compared with 62% of those ages 40 and older. Canadians in both age groups pray less than their American counterparts, yet they also have a large age gap, with 16% of younger and 30% of older adults praying daily. There also are double-digit differences between the average shares of older and younger adults who pray daily in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe.

In sub-Saharan Africa, again, the average country’s gap is negligible at 3 percentage points, with high rates of daily prayer among both younger and older adults (74% vs. 77%). Similar to religious service attendance, Liberia bucks the global pattern – young Liberians are more likely than older Liberians to pray daily. This is also the case in Chad, where young adults also are more likely to be religiously affiliated.

Despite regional variations, the global pattern is clear: In the average country, across 105 countries surveyed, fewer than half of adults under 40 (44%) say they pray at least once a day, while most people ages 40 and older (54%) do this. 22

Some of the countries with especially large age gaps in daily prayer are highly religious overall, while others are not. For example, in Nicaragua, young adults are 17 percentage points less likely to say they pray daily than older Nicaraguans (67% vs. 83%). Finland has a similarly sized gap of 15 points, even though daily prayer is far less common among Finns in both age groups (8% vs. 23%).

An age gap in daily prayer is also found within multiple religious groups. Overall, young Christian adults are less likely to pray daily in 48 countries – a solid majority of the 77 countries with a sufficient sample of Christians to analyze. In the average country, 42% of young Christians pray daily, compared with 51% of older Christians. For Muslims, there is a significant age gap in daily prayer in 16 of 41 countries with data, with an average gap of 7 percentage points across those countries.

There is a similar age gap among Hindus in India (74% vs. 81%) – where more than 90% of the world’s Hindus live – and an even larger one among Hindus in the U.S. (39% vs. 62%). (India and the U.S. are the only countries with a sufficient number of Hindu respondents to enable comparisons between age groups.)

Among Jews in both the U.S. and Israel, there is no significant age gap in daily prayer, perhaps in part because Orthodox Jews – who tend to have more children – make up a growing share of both Jewish populations, and thus a larger percentage of young Jewish adults.

The Age Gap in Religion Around the World

By several measures, young adults tend to be less religious than their elders; the opposite is rarely true

(Chad Springer/Image Source/Getty Images)

In the United States, religious congregations have been graying for decades, and young adults are now much less religious than their elders. Recent surveys have found that younger adults are far less likely than older generations to identify with a religion, believe in God or engage in a variety of religious practices.

But this is not solely an American phenomenon: Lower religious observance among younger adults is common around the world, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center surveys conducted in more than 100 countries and territories over the last decade.

Although the age gap in religious commitment is larger in some nations than in others, it occurs in many different economic and social contexts – in developing countries as well as advanced industrial economies, in Muslim-majority nations as well as predominantly Christian states, and in societies that are, overall, highly religious as well as those that are comparatively secular.

For example, adults younger than 40 are less likely than older adults to say religion is “very important” in their lives not only in wealthy and relatively secular countries such as Canada, Japan and Switzerland, but also in countries that are less affluent and more religious, such as Iran, Poland and Nigeria.

While this pattern is widespread, it is not universal. In many countries, there is no statistically significant difference in levels of religious observance between younger and older adults. In the places where there is a difference, however, it is almost always in the direction of younger adults being less religious than their elders.
Same pattern seen over multiple measures of religious commitment

Overall, adults ages 18 to 39 are less likely than those ages 40 and older to say religion is very important to them in 46 out of 106 countries surveyed by Pew Research Center over the last decade. In 58 countries, there are no significant differences between younger and older adults on this question. And just two countries – the former Soviet republic of Georgia and the West African country of Ghana – have younger adults who are, on average, more religious than their elders. (For theories about why younger adults often are less religious, see Chapter 1. For a discussion of some of these exceptions, see the sidebar in Chapter 2.)

Similar patterns also are found using three other standard measures of religious identification and commitment: affiliation with a religious group, daily prayer and weekly worship attendance.

In 41 countries, adults under 40 are significantly less likely than their elders to have a religious affiliation, while in only two countries (Chad and Ghana) are younger adults more likely to identify with a religious group. In 63 countries, there is no statistically significant difference in affiliation rates.

Younger adults are less likely to say they pray daily in 71 of 105 countries and territories for which Pew Research Center survey data are available, while they are more likely to pray daily in two countries (Chad and Liberia). And adults under 40 are less likely to attend religious services on a weekly basis in 53 of 102 countries; the opposite is true in just three countries (Armenia, Liberia and Rwanda).

While the number of countries with a significant age gap shows how widespread this pattern is, it does not give a sense of the magnitude of the differences between older and younger adults on these measures.

In many countries, the gaps are relatively small. Indeed, the average gap between younger adults and older adults across all the countries surveyed is 5 percentage points for affiliation, 6 points for importance of religion, 6 points for worship attendance and 9 points for prayer.

But a substantial number of countries have much bigger differences. There are gulfs of at least 10 percentage points between the shares of older and younger adults who identify with a religious group in more than two dozen countries – mostly with predominantly Christian populations in Europe and the Americas. For example, the share of U.S. adults under age 40 who identify with a religious group is 17 percentage points lower than the share of older adults who are religiously affiliated. The gap is even larger in neighboring Canada (28 points). And there are double-digit age gaps in affiliation in countries as far flung as South Korea (24 points), Uruguay (18 points) and Finland (17 points).

A note on averages

To help make sense of an enormous pool of data, this report sometimes cites global averages of country-level data. In calculating the averages, each country is weighted equally, regardless of population size. Global averages, therefore, should be interpreted as the average finding among all countries surveyed, not as population-weighted averages representing all people around the world.
Differences among regions, religions

Age gaps are more common in some geographic regions than others. For instance, in 14 out of 19 countries and territories surveyed in Latin America and the Caribbean, adults under age 40 are significantly less likely than their elders to say religion is very important in their lives. This is also the case in about half of the European countries surveyed (18 out of 35), and in both countries in North America (the U.S. and Canada; Mexico is included in the figures for Latin America).

On the other hand, in sub-Saharan Africa, where overall levels of religious commitment are among the highest in the world, there is no significant difference between older and younger adults in terms of the importance of religion in 17 out of 21 countries surveyed.

Age gaps are also more common within some religious groups than in others. For example, religion is less important to younger Christian adults in nearly half of all the countries around the world where sample sizes are large enough to allow age comparisons among Christians (37 out of 78). For Muslims, this is the case in about one-quarter of countries surveyed (10 out of 42). Among Buddhists, younger adults are significantly less religious in just one country (the United States) out of five countries for which data are available. There is no age gap by this measure among Jews in the U.S. or Israel, or among Hindus in the U.S. or India.1
Do age gaps mean the world is becoming less religious?

The widespread pattern in which younger adults tend to be less religious than older adults may have multiple potential causes. Some scholars argue that people naturally become more religious as they age; to others, the age gap is a sign that parts of the world are secularizing (i.e., becoming less religious over time). (For a detailed discussion of theories about age gaps and secularization, see Chapter 1.)

But even if parts of the world are secularizing, it is not necessarily the case that the world’s population, overall, is becoming less religious. On the contrary, the most religious areas of the world are experiencing the fastest population growth because they have high fertility rates and relatively young populations.

Previously published projections show that if current trends continue, countries with high levels of religious affiliation will grow fastest. The same is true for levels of religious commitment: The fastest population growth appears to be occurring in countries where many people say religion is very important in their lives.

These are among the key findings of a new Pew Research Center analysis of surveys collected over the last decade in 106 countries. The data analyzed in this report come from 13 different Pew Research Center studies, including annual Global Attitudes Surveys as well as major studies on religion in sub-Saharan Africa; the Middle East and other countries with large Muslim populations; Latin America; the United States; Central and Eastern Europe; and Western Europe.

The number of countries analyzed varies by measure and type of comparison. While data are available for as many as 106 countries depending on the measure, the number of countries with reliable data on a particular religious group depends on the size of that group in each country’s sample. For example, there are sufficient data to gauge the importance of religion among Christians in 84 countries, and the sample sizes are large enough to compare responses among older and younger Christians in 78 of those 84 countries.

Another limitation is that the measures of religious observance contained in many surveys around the world and analyzed in this report may not be equally suitable for all religious groups. In particular, rates of prayer and attendance at worship services are generally seen as reliable indicators of religious observance within Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Islam and Judaism), but they may not be as applicable for Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern religions. Because of these disparities, this report does not seek to compare levels of religious commitment between the world’s major religions (e.g., to compare Christians with Buddhists or Muslims). Rather, the primary focus is on age differences within religious groups and within countries or geographic regions (e.g., comparing younger Christians with older Christians, or younger Indonesians with older Indonesians).

This study, produced with funding from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, is part of the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures project, a broader effort to understand religious change, including the demographic patterns shaping religion around the world. Previous reports have focused on gender and religion, religion and education and population growth projections for major world religions.

The rest of this report looks in more detail at both age gaps in religious commitment (Chapter 2) and overall levels of religious commitment around the world (Chapter 3), by four standard measures: religious affiliation, importance of religion, attendance and prayer. Appendixes detail the methodology and sources used, and include tables that show each of the four measures for every country surveyed with data for overall levels of religious commitment, figures for adults over and under 40, age gaps for the total population and age gaps by religious group. But, first, Chapter 1 examines theories about why levels of religious observance vary so markedly across different age groups and different parts of the world.
Why do levels of religious observance vary by age and country?

Social scientists have proposed various explanations for age gaps in religious commitment around the world. One common explanation is that new generations become less religious in tandem with economic development – as collective worries about day-to-day survival become less pervasive and tragic events become less frequent. According to this line of thinking, each generation in a steadily developing society would be less religious than the last, which would explain why young adults are less religious than their elders at any given time.

Rising education levels are often closely tied to economic development. Some theorists suggest education could reduce religious identity and practice, although empirical findings about the relationship between education and religion are complex.2 In societies where access to education is spreading and the average number of years of schooling is rising, younger generations tend to receive more education than their parents and grandparents did. Directly or indirectly, this increase in education could be part of why younger adults are less religious.

Another theory is that differences in religious commitment reflect change during the life course. Although young adults often start out less religious than their elders, they tend to become more devout as they age, have children and begin to face their own mortality (or so the theory suggests).

These explanations are not mutually exclusive – it is possible that young people will become more religious as they age, but will still be less religious than previous generations if their countries become more affluent and stable. Pew Research Center surveys and other international data provide some evidence for both societal and life-course influences on religious commitment.
The ‘existential insecurity’ explanation for variation in religion

Variations in religious commitment also can be attributed to differences in the way countries – and often whole regions – developed historically, and how each society practices religion. Even though these differences do not directly explain the existence of age gaps, they affect how successive generations experience religion and respond to questions about observance.

As the map above shows, the countries with the highest shares of people who say religion is very important in their lives are in Africa, the Middle East, South Asia and Latin America, while those with the lowest shares are in Europe, North America, East Asia and Australia.

This has led many researchers to observe that people in poorer parts of the world are, on average, more religious than those in societies with advanced economies.3 Other indicators of economic development – such as education, life expectancy and income equality – also tend to align with measures of religious commitment.

Pew Research Center data show, for example, a clear correlation between life expectancy at birth in a country and the percentage of its people who attend religious services weekly. That is, the higher the life expectancy in a country, the less likely people are to attend services frequently.

Political scientists Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart, examining findings from the World Values Survey, attribute the pattern of higher religious commitment in poor places to stark differences in existential insecurity – that is, the degree of safety and security people feel as they go about their daily lives.4

As their theory goes, in places where people face a constant threat of premature death due to hunger, war or disease, feelings of vulnerability tend to drive people to religion, which in turn provides hope and reduces anxiety. In countries with advanced economies, meanwhile, people are more likely to feel safe – in part because technology and infrastructure investments in these societies have helped people overcome many common health problems, cope with severe weather, and deal with other types of emergencies that can cause existential anxiety. Norris and Inglehart contend that people in these countries rely less on religion for emotional support or for explanations of the unknown.

When new cohorts of adults grow up in societies with greater existential security than their parents had – as may be the case in a country with improving economic conditions – young adults may drift away from religion, producing the age differences described in this report. By the same token, a decline in existential security within a country that falls into civil war or some other calamity could help to explain some of the exceptions – places where younger adults are more religious than their elders (see sidebar in Chapter 2).

Can tragedies increase religious commitment levels?

Do large-scale catastrophes such as famines, wars and earthquakes spur increases in religious behavior? It’s hard to tell, because researchers usually lack comparative data from before and after a disaster. An exception, though, is a February 2011 earthquake in New Zealand that resulted in 185 deaths and thousands of injuries.

The earthquake and its aftershocks struck between the 2009 and 2011 phases of the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study, a national longitudinal survey. This allowed researchers to compare levels of religious affiliation before and after the quake, and they discovered that people living in the Canterbury region, where the earthquake hit, seemed to become more religious.5

From 2009 to 2011, the Canterbury region showed a net gain in religious affiliation of 3.4%. That compares with a 1.6% net drop in religious affiliation across the rest of New Zealand during that same period.

The researchers cautioned that explanations for conversion can be complicated; they did not directly link their findings to a quest for comfort by the earthquake’s survivors, and they noted that some people in the affected area turned away from religion. Still, the researchers described the “significant overall increase in religious faith” among those affected by the earthquake as “remarkable.”

In a separate study, the economist Jeanet Sinding Bentzen found that people living in places where earthquakes and other unpredictable natural disasters, such as tsunamis and floods, recently occurred are more religious than people living elsewhere.6 Likewise, among victims of Hurricane Katrina, which battered the Gulf Coast of the United States in 2005, 67% reported becoming more religious as a result of the trauma.7 Survivors whose religious commitment increased also had lower rates of mental illness and suicidal thoughts following the hurricane than others.

This effect is not limited to natural disasters. Some survivors who were inside or in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center buildings during the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reported having stronger religious faith after the attacks.8 There was also a short-lived increase in worship service attendance among the U.S. general public immediately after the attacks.9
Religious commitment is lower in countries with higher education, higher GDP and greater income equality

Several measures besides life expectancy at birth can be used to measure existential security within countries. For example, education is a common proxy for prosperity and development. Plotting the average number of years of formal schooling adults have completed in each country alongside the share of adults who attend religious services at least weekly shows that more education is associated with less frequent religious service attendance. Indeed, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa have high percentages of adults attending religious services weekly and relatively few years of completed schooling, on average. Conversely, European countries tend to have lower rates of weekly attendance and more years of schooling.

In a similar way, a country’s wealth – as measured by per capita gross domestic product (GDP) –is associated with its average rate of daily prayer. Countries with higher levels of wealth typically have lower levels of prayer, and vice versa. In every surveyed country with a GDP of more than $30,000 per person, fewer than 40% of adults say they pray every day – except in the United States. On this measure, the U.S. (where 55% of adults pray daily) is a major outlier; of 102 countries studied, it is the only one with higher-than-average levels of both prayer and wealth.10

Regional clustering is apparent on this measure, too. Nearly every country in sub-Saharan Africa has a per-person GDP under $10,000 and above-average rates of daily prayer. European countries are scattered across the full range in terms of GDP, but the only one with a rate of daily prayer at or above the global average is Moldova, which has Europe’s lowest GDP per capita. Similarly, the only country in the Middle East-North Africa region where fewer than 50% of adults pray every day is Israel, which also has a markedly higher GDP than the other countries in the region for which survey data are available.

Finally, it also appears that economic inequality is correlated with higher levels of religious commitment. Societies with very unequal distribution of income tend to be more religious, while those who live in relatively egalitarian societies say religion is less important, on average. (This is measured by a country’s Gini coefficient, the most common measure of income inequality.11)

Overall, regardless of how religious commitment or prosperity are measured, the general pattern holds: Religious commitment is lower in places where life is easier. And in places where life is steadily becoming easier, the theory goes, younger adults generally are less religious than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
Does aging itself make people more religious?

Many scholars also point to the aging process itself as an explanation for why young people are less religious than their elders. In a sense, this dovetails with the “existential insecurity” argument: Growing older and nearing the end of one’s life could produce a sense of existential worry in an individual, regardless of how comfortable the conditions are in their country. Data gathered in Western countries in particular indicate that religious identity and commitment often change throughout the course of people’s lives, as they leave their parents’ homes, start families, advance in their careers and age through retirement.

Research has shown that religious attachments tend to peak during adolescence, decline through young and middle adulthood, and then increase through most of late adulthood. For instance, Pew Research Center’s analysis of Gallup poll data suggests that U.S. adults born in the 1930s attended worship more frequently once they reached their 60s. Other longitudinal studies (which surveyed the same people at intervals over decades) find a “retirement surge” in religiosity among older people. While not ruling out the influence of other factors – such as when and where people live – one research team argued that “life course trajectories may trump generational placement as predictors of religious behaviors and orientations.”12

Economists have applied profit motive – the idea that most decisions are inspired by the quest for financial gain – to this question.13 One research team concluded, based on survey data and church-membership records, that people in early adulthood focus more on making money than on religion, and that religiosity tends to decline during this peak earning phase. In their later years, this team posits, most people decide to build up the “religious capital” they believe will help them after death.

Another theory, drawn from psychology, is that people actually develop new values during life’s later decades, distinct from the values of midlife, leading to greater spirituality and satisfaction. 14 This theory of “gerotranscendence” is based on survey research showing that many older people report being less self-centered than they were previously, as well as feeling more connected to others and institutions beyond themselves.
The United States as a case study

While there is ample recent evidence to suggest that younger adults tend to be less religious than their elders, it would be a mistake to assume that this tendency always holds true. The global data analyzed in this report come from surveys conducted over the past decade, capturing only a brief snapshot of religious commitment and shedding little light on how peoples’ religious habits change over time.

This limitation is largely unavoidable because there is a dearth of longitudinal data on this topic in many countries. In the U.S., however, researchers have collected data on religious commitment for decades, and an in-depth look at the results suggests that younger Americans have not always been less religious than their elders, challenging the notion that older people are naturally more religious.

Gallup surveys dating back nearly 80 years show that in 1939, 39% of Americans ages 40 and older and 36% of U.S. adults younger than 40 claimed to have attended church in the last week. Both groups saw a rise in attendance in the postwar period – the early years of the Cold War – and by the late 1950s, the modest age gap had closed. Over the next 10 years, as the U.S. experienced rapid economic growth, the two age groups moved apart, and that gap has persisted through several decades. If anything, the gap has grown in recent years as attendance rates among young adults have fallen.

Looking at four age groups (rather than two) reveals even more clearly that religious service attendance and age have not always correlated perfectly in the United States. From the early 1940s through the 1960s, people in their 40s and 50s reported attending at least as frequently as those over 60. And adults in their 30s saw a spike in attendance in the late 1950s, briefly matching or exceeding the other groups. By the mid-1970s, the age groups had split into the pattern seen today: Older adults are more religiously committed than younger adults.

Although these data do not rule out life cycle effects, they show that Americans of all ages experienced a boom in religious attendance in the post-World War II years, and younger Americans in the late 1950s reported attending at least as often as their elders. More recently, younger Americans have reported less frequent religious service attendance than older adults.

Religious trends in the United States may be different from those in the rest of the world. Like many of their peer nations, Americans enjoy a high standard of living, high rates of literacy and education, a developed economy, and a representative democracy. However, compared with other similarly developed countries, the U.S. has relatively high levels of economic inequality, infant mortality and imprisonment rates.15 Americans also are more religious by most measures than others in similarly developed economies.

domingo, 17 de junio de 2018

Can the Euro Be Saved?


Across the eurozone, political leaders are entering a state of paralysis: citizens want to remain in the EU, but they also want an end to austerity and the return of prosperity. So long as Germany tells them they can’t have both, there can be only one outcome: more pain, more suffering, more unemployment, and even slower growth.

NEW YORK – The euro may be approaching another crisis. Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy, has chosen what can at best be described as a Euroskeptic government. This should surprise no one. The backlash in Italy is another predictable (and predicted) episode in the long saga of a poorly designed currency arrangement, in which the dominant power, Germany, impedes the necessary reforms and insists on policies that exacerbate the inherent problems, using rhetoric seemingly intended to inflame passions.

Italy has been performing poorly since the euro’s launch. Its real (inflation-adjusted) GDP in 2016 was the same as it was in 2001. But the eurozone as a whole has not been doing well, either. From 2008 to 2016, its real GDP increased by just 3% in total. In 2000, a year after the euro was introduced, the US economy was only 13% larger than the eurozone; by 2016 it was 26% larger. After real growth of around 2.4% in 2017 – not enough to reverse the damage of a decade of malaise – the eurozone economy is faltering again.1

If one country does poorly, blame the country; if many countries are doing poorly, blame the system. And as I put it in my book The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe, the euro was a system almost designed to fail. It took away governments’ main adjustment mechanisms (interest and exchange rates); and, rather than creating new institutions to help countries cope with the diverse situations in which they find themselves, it imposed new strictures – often based on discredited economic and political theories – on deficits, debt, and even structural policies.1

The euro was supposed to bring shared prosperity, which would enhance solidarity and advance the goal of European integration. In fact, it has done just the opposite, slowing growth and sowing discord.

The problem is not a shortage of ideas about how to move forward. French President Emmanuel Macron, in two speeches, at the Sorbonne last September, and when he received the Charlemagne Prize for European Unity in May, has articulated a clear vision for Europe’s future. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has effectively thrown cold water on his proposals, suggesting, for example, risibly small amounts of money for investment in areas that urgently need it.

In my book, I emphasized the urgent need for a common deposit insurance scheme, to prevent runs against banking systems in weak countries. Germany seems to recognize the importance of a banking union for the functioning of a single currency, but, like St. Augustine, its response has been, “O Lord, make me pure, but not yet.” Banking union apparently is a reform to be undertaken sometime in the future, never mind how much damage is done in the present.

The central problem in a currency area is how to correct exchange-rate misalignments like the one now affecting Italy. Germany’s answer is to put the burden on the weak countries already suffering from high unemployment and low growth rates. We know where this leads: more pain, more suffering, more unemployment, and even slower growth. Even if growth eventually recovers, GDP never reaches the level it would have attained had a more sensible strategy been pursued. The alternative is to shift more of the burden of adjustment on the strong countries, with higher wages and stronger demand supported by government investment programs.

We have seen the first and second acts of this play many times already. A new government is elected, promising to do a better job negotiating with the Germans to end austerity and design a more reasonable structural reform program. If the Germans budge at all, it is not enough to change the economic course. Anti-German sentiment increases, and any government, whether center-left or center-right, that hints at necessary reforms is thrown out of office. Anti-establishment parties gain. Gridlock emerges.

Across the eurozone, political leaders are moving into a state of paralysis: citizens want to remain in the EU, but also want an end to austerity and the return of prosperity. They are told they can’t have both. Ever hopeful of a change of heart in northern Europe, troubled governments stay the course, and the suffering of their people increases.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa’s socialist-led government is the exception to this pattern. Costa managed to lead his country back to growth (2.7% in 2017) and achieve a high degree of popularity (44% of Portuguese thought the government was performing above expectations in April 2018).

Italy may prove to be another exception – though in a very different sense. There, anti-euro sentiment is coming from both the left and the right. With his far-right League party now in power, Matteo Salvini, the party’s leader and an experienced politician, might actually carry out the kinds of threats that neophytes elsewhere were afraid to implement. Italy is large enough, with enough good and creative economists, to manage a de facto departure – establishing in effect a flexible dual currency that could help restore prosperity. This would violate euro rules, but the burden of a de jure departure, with all of its consequences, would be shifted to Brussels and Frankfurt, with Italy counting on EU paralysis to prevent the final break. Whatever the outcome, the eurozone will be left in tatters.1

It doesn’t have to come to this. Germany and other countries in northern Europe can save the euro by showing more humanity and more flexibility. But, having watched the first acts of this play so many times, I am not counting on them to change the plot.1


Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate in economics, is University Professor at Columbia University and Chief Economist at the Roosevelt Institute. His most recent book is Globalization and Its Discontents Revisited: Anti-Globalization in the Era of Trump.