You have to admire the audacity of pitching higher taxes and more social welfare as the path to national revival, especially when the global evidence is the opposite. The result of Mr. Biden’s expanded entitlements is likely to be reduced incentives to work and invest, slower economic growth, lower living standards, and less fiscal space for essential public goods like national defense.
That’s the lesson from Europe’s cradle-to-grave welfare states, which Bernie Sanders explicitly pitches as models. Most have older populations than the U.S., but this alone doesn’t account for their lower labor participation rates and much higher structural unemployment. European jobless rates tend to be much higher than in the U.S., especially for the young. In 2019 labor participation was 62.6% in the U.S. versus 49.7% in Italy, 55% in France, 57.7% in Spain, 59.3% in Portugal and 61.3% in Germany.