France’s National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) has released its 2014 social portrait of the country, which highlights how French society has evolved over the years – from an explosion in the number of homeless to the number of French people descended from migrants.
There are more French people than ever before. France’s population, which includes metropolitan France and the overseas departments, has broken the 66 million barrier thanks to 280,000 births in 2013, corresponding to an increase of 0.42 percent. For comparison, the population of the UK is at 64,308,000 and that of Germany at 80,780,000. Despite the new population record, fertility rate in France fell below two children per woman in 2013.
Two million on benefits
The economic crisis and France’s rising unemployment rate have had a major impact on the number of people receiving welfare benefits. Between 2008 and 2012, the amount of people benefitting from RSA (Active Solidarity Income) has increased by 26%, meaning 1.7 million people currently depend on it, and 400,000 people receive ASS (Special Solidarity Allowance), a rise of 27 percent.
Homeless rate explodes
Homeless people in France’s major cities are a common sight now due to an alarming 44% increase in the homelessness rate between 2001 and 2012. INSEE says that 81,000 adults and 31,000 children are currently living without a permanent roof over their heads, though the actual number may be much higher. Some 55% of those counted were born abroad, and half of homeless people are of African descent; the number of women and children on the streets is increasing.
INSEE also found that a quarter of home- less people work, however, mostly part-time or short contracts, and do low-quality jobs.
Increase in Sunday work
Over a four-week period, 20% of employed people worked at least once on a Sunday. People employed in sectors such as agriculture, gastronomy, business or transport are most likely to be called in on a Sunday, with at least one in three employees working on weekends.
Higher average annual wages
The report has some good news on average annual wages in France, which stand at €20,100 in 2012, having increased by 0.2% between 2007 and 2012. However, compared to a 0.6% rise between 2002 and 2007, it progressed at a much lower rate than prior to the economic crisis.
The report also shows inequality has gone down albeit slightly. The standard of living of the poorest 10% of the population has increased by 0.1% in 2013, while the richest 10% have seen a decrease of 1.7 percent. However, they still earn 6.6 times more than the ones at the bottom of the scale with an average monthly income of €4,963 compared to €754.
Ten percent of French descended from migrants
About 10%, 6.7 million, of France’s population are descendant from immigrants, meaning they were born in France and have at least one parent that was born abroad. According to INSEE, people descendant from immigrants will be less active in the labour market than people without a migrant background, but still more active than their mothers.
68% in good health
Despite French people’s well-known worry about health matters, 68% actually consider their state of health to be good or even very good, according to the report. However, medical expenses are still high. Last year, the French spent €186.7 billion on medical care such as treatments at hospitals, medical bills and medicine.
1,300 priority neighbourhoods
Currently, there are 1,300 so-called priority neighbourhoods in 700 different communities with 5 million people affected in total. These areas are typically home to large and single-parent families, where the unemployment rate is higher than in the rest of France.
Cultural budget at a new low
It appears the French currently don’t have much money to spare as the amount of cash spent on cultural activities and hobbies hit its lowest point in 2013 since 1985. In 2013 people only used 8.3% of their income for these types of activities compared to 9.5% in 2007.