About a month ago, OECD released a report named Looking to 2060: Long-term growth prospects for the world. According to the report, by 2060 the living standard in Estonia will be higher of that in France, Spain, Greece and Portugal. The reactions in Estonia to the report were mixed. On one hand, the media was delighted, on the other hand, the new head of the Bank of Estonia called the report a “fantasy”.
Well, I totally agree with OECD. In fact, I would give Greece 10, Spain 20 and France 30 years before Estonia surpasses them in the living standard (measured by GDP per capita). However, there are of course a couple of presumptions for that to happen. And they are mostly connected with how people think and act.
Most importantly, there should not be additional measures installed in Estonia that would punish those who are willing to work and study hard to succeed in life. This pitfall, often labeled as “solidarity”, is haunting most well-developed European countries at the moment. Especially the French are learning that lesson the hard way now, with their best taxpayers and most famous actors leaving to Belgium, Russia and other countries.
Another “threat” in us (Estonia) catching up with others (France, Spain, Greece) would be if the mindset of the people in those countries changed suddenly and they start making quick progress. It is hard to see that happening. Try telling French that they’d have to work as many hours a week as any other country in Europe or Greeks that they’d have to start paying their taxes and you’d see hundreds of thousands of people protesting in the streets and burning down centuries old houses (that managed to survive the World Wars).
Last week I was in Tenerife and one afternoon I wanted to rent a kayak to spend a couple of hours on the ocean. To my surprise, the kayak rentals were closed from 2 PM to 5 PM (and opened again from 5-7 PM). Like c’mon – who wants to rent a kayak at 5PM when it is already getting dark?! It also did not make any sense to me that the place was closed from Saturday through Monday. The economic situation in Spain is pretty tough and in Canary Island it is even worse. Yet, even the hard times do not make locals to skip siesta.
Estonians are on average pretty honest and hard-working folks and this will bring long-term results, no doubt. I’m not too concerned about a few turkey pluckers and dish-washers moving to Ireland, Australia or other contries here and there. The future is created by skilled workers, specialists, entrepreneurs who strive to be a bit better on their professions day after day. Lets keep them motivated, achieve growth and not dissapoint the OECD guys. They believe in us too, after all.