A snapshot of French inequalities

France - Jun 06 2019
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A snapshot of French inequalities

On June 4, French Observatory on Inequalities published its report on the state of the nation regarding revenues, housing, education and employment inequalities. Figures mainly show a stagnation or a deteriorating trend in the main areas studied. For example, the poverty rate, defined as 50% of the median revenue, rose from 7,3% to 8% between 2006 and 2016.  Youth unemployment increased by 6.3 pts between 2001 and 2017 to reach a high 20,9% [latest figures might show slow progress]. 143 000 people are homeless and have to use temporary accommodation as well as apply for social housing.

In terms of revenues inequalities, the first decile (richest people) earns 8.7 times more than the last one after taxes and social redistribution. The richest 1% corner 6% of all revenues and the first decile gets 23.8%. The Palma’s ratio (ratio between the revenues of the richest 10% and the revenues of the poorest 40%) is around 1.  It means that these two populations get the same level of revenues. It is in line with OECD figures elsewhere and it is far from the most unequal countries such as South Africa (7.1), Haiti (6.5) or Botswana (5.8). Regarding the other members of the BRICS, India is close to 1.5, China is around 2.1, Brazil 3.5, and Russia 2.

The other important information emphasized by the report is the social inertia of inequalities. Considering education as a major way to reduce inequalities over time, France is a country that maintains people in their social class and hinders social mobility. For example, there are 3 times more children from higher social class in higher education than those from lower income families.

Recent French tax policies (transformation of a wealth-based tax into a property-based tax, change and increase of some social redistributions…) have not been taken into account in this study and we are not sure yet about their impacts on inequalities

Emeric Nicolas, Head of Data Science Dpt.
Sources: Observatoire Français de Inégalités, UNDP

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