In This Review

The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations
The Wealth of the World and the Poverty of Nations
By Daniel Cohen
MIT Press, 1998, 136 pp

Cohen, a leading French economist, nicely bridges the gap between two intellectual traditions. His references are half from English-language professional literature, half from the more historically oriented French literature. His concerns are the marginalization of unskilled workers in modern rich societies, long-term unemployment in Europe, and low wages in the United States. These ills cannot be attributed to globalization, such as imports from China, but rather are due to the changing nature of work -- the "third Industrial Revolution" -- with its high dependence on the interlocking, complementary skills of all members of a team of workers. The high minimum wage and high unemployment compensation in France assure low hiring rates and long-term unemployment. The author urges instead an earned income tax credit like that of the United States to assure adequate incomes for unskilled workers. He strongly rejects protection against imports, historically a temptation in France, on the grounds that it would deny poor countries the ability to import social, managerial, and technological ideas.