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French "new poor": the economic crisis continues


According to official statistics, nearly 9 million French - more than 14% of the country's population - live below the poverty line today. Moreover, among them there are most children: poverty affects 20% of the number of minors in France, that is, every fifth child. These are data from a report published on July 2 by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Research (Insee).

An explanation for this is easy to find: most often, large families or single-parent families with many children fall below the poverty line. At the same time, according to Insee experts, usually having children in the family raises income levels, as parents use the social benefits that the state pays them. There are even families in which the birth of a child is planned precisely in the hope of increasing income. But families with many children are usually not affected.

True, there is a reservation: poor people in France are those who receive less than 970 euros per month for a single person or less than 2000 euros for a family with two children. Thus, in terms of the number of poor, France is rather approaching the Scandinavian countries, which is considered quite good for European statistics.

Jerome Accardot (Insee): The number of unemployed in France is relatively small compared to other countries, in percentage terms we are second only to the Scandinavian countries or the Netherlands. But, on the other hand, from the beginning of the crisis in Europe, between 2008 and 2011, the number of poor in France grew at the fastest pace, only Spain was ahead of us in this.

To be precise, the minimum wage in France is 978 euros per month. Moreover, it is believed that this figure is 60% of the average French salary.

So, in France there are fewer poor than the average in Europe, but, nevertheless, there are more and more of them.

In general, the growth rate of poverty in France is forcing specialists to sound the alarm and turn to the government. According to them, the situation is to blame for the anti-crisis measures taken by the European Union related to the reduction of state budgets and social payments. And not just unemployment.

If the unemployed account for 40% of the number of poor in France, then among the working population, 8% are considered poor. And the number of poor but working French is growing every year. So, between 2010 and 2011, their number increased by 0.5%.

The growth rate of poverty is even more noticeable in the long run. Between the start of the economic crisis of 2008 and 2011 (at which Insee statistics end), the number of poor in France grew by 10%.

According to Jerome Vignon (Insee), “This is the first time in the past 15 years that we have seen such a growth rate of poverty.” Moreover, this “new poverty” has one more side: today, about 15% of the French refuse treatment because of a lack of funds.

Along with the increase in the number of “new poor” in France, the number of so-called “old poor” remains unchanged.

Simon Beck (Insee): 30% of the poor remain poor for at least three years. From the point of view of professional specialization, social inequality is especially noticeable: for example, employees quickly increase their standard of living. While other professions are much more difficult to get out of the category of poor.

Moreover, as statistics show, if the standard of living of the poor remains unchanged for 3-4 years, then after this period it is almost impossible to leave the category of poor.

Insee's report also notes another side of social inequality: the gap between rich and poor has been steadily increasing over the years. So, if in 2010 incomes of almost all categories of the population increased, then in 2011 the richest people became even richer, while among the poor the standard of living fell sharply.


The Insee study figures only until 2011, as the institute needs 3 years to produce accurate statistics.


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