Nationwide strikes protesting austerity measures in Greece actually increased Greek productivity by around 5%, according to a recent study by two Princeton economists.
“Frankly, the findings were not a shock to us,” said Ellen Denham, one of the study’s authors. “The strikes affected every part of the Greek economy, from agriculture to
tourism to shipping. Transit systems shut down, trash went uncollected, and bureaucrats, teachers and even policemen didn’t come into work. For the country's struggling economy it was just what the doctor ordered.”
The study found that during the October 2011 strike, Greek productivity hit levels not seen since early 2009, when the introduction of a smartphone app allowing users to play Scrabble in the Greek alphabet momentarily improved the Mediterranean nation’s debt-to-GDP ratio .
According to Roger Agarwal, the study’s co-author, there are several logical explanations. “One, Greece is so disorganized that many who intended to strike accidentally ended up doing work,” said Mr. Agarwal. “And two, most of the strikers are so corrupt or inefficient that their absence from the job actually allowed real work to get done."
Ms. Denham explained, "It's not a surprise that halting negative productivity improves things. As the maxim goes: 'If you're in a hole, stop digging… by sending the morons with shovels into the streets.'”
Concluded Mr. Agarwal, “We can only hope that the Greeks strike again, and soon, and as broadly as possible. A total shutdown by their working people may be Greece’s only chance of turning their economy around in the foreseeable future.”