Saturday, October 12, 2013

Poland's new generation is the most competitive generation ever

As I argue in the World Bank paper, economic models, which spit out long-term growth projections, are deeply flawed as they are blind towards soft, but nonetheless critically important factors such as culture, values or the determination to get ahead and catch up with the West.

Specifically, growth models compare oranges to apples when they do not reflect the fundamental difference in Poland between the old, post-Soviet generation and the new, European generation in terms of work ethos, command of English, personal integrity, entrepreneurship, educational aspirations, social trust, openness, internet use or civic engagement.

The old, 50+ generation has throughout their lives acquired skills, which allowed them to survive under communism, but have proven difficult to thrive in capitalism. Kafkaesque incentives, lack of innovation, acceptance of mediocre quality, lack of focus on customer service and satisfaction, and a guarantee of employment promoted a skill set and mentality that are not the same as those needed today in modern European capitalism. The work ethos also suffered, following in the footsteps of earlier generations.

In turn, the young generation of Poles today is probably the most competitive Polish generation ever. Anecdotal and formal evidence (Social Diagnosis 2011, 2013, Boni 2011) suggests that the new generation is more materially motivated, more assertive, and more focused on success than the old generation. It is also much more traveled, cosmopolitan, urban, open-minded and European. It is also significantly better educated: only 13 percent of the generation aged 55-64 has tertiary education relative to 39 percent for those aged 25-34, one of the largest differences among the OECD countries (OECD 2013). The new generation is also widely perceived to be among the most productive and hard working in Europe, in reversal of old stereotypes.

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