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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les ghettos de pauvres en France

by Gérard Le Puill

Poverty Ghettos in France

Translated Thursday 18 June 2015, by Carly Coulter

On 2 June the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) made public a study carried out in 2012 based on a “localised social and fiscal file” on the poverty rate in France. It confirms what is observable to the naked eye, while providing indisputable figures.

According to the study made public this morning, the pockets of poverty are generally more significant in the North and South of France than in the East and West of the country. They are also more significant in the centre of cities than in the residential outskirts, more significant in the French departments with large amounts of social housing than in those that have little. In the latter, the level of income for affluent households is very high. In Neuilly, the town where Nicolas Sarkozy was mayor before serving as Minister of the Interior, and then President of France, the annual income for the top 10% of the most affluent households amounts to: €111,700 per year for one-person households; €167,000 for a couple with no children; €234,570 for a couple with two children under the age of 14. It should be noted that the study was conducted in 2012, the year that Nicolas Sarkozy finished his 5-year term. This is undoubtedly why he now prefers lecture about France than to talk about the social and economic policies he would develop should he return to France’s presidential palace.

27% of inhabitants of France’s 93rd department are living below the poverty line

If we look at the standard of living for the poorest 10% of households, it doesn’t exceed €11,700 per year and per individual consumer in all of France’s metropolitan regions.
But it falls to €8,990 in Corsica, and to €9,650 in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region. Regarding the median standard of living for households living below the poverty line, it’s €8,630 per consumption unit in Paris, compared to €9,900 in Vendée. More broadly, 20% of households living in Corsica, Languedoc-Roussillon, and Nord-Pas-de-Calais live below the poverty line. The same applies for 27% of inhabitants in Seine-Saint-Denis, while the number falls to 9% in the Yvelines. In Languedoc-Roussillon, the Lozère, less favoured than Gard, Hérault, Aude and the Eastern Pyrenees by nature, nevertheless accounts for a lower poverty percentage than the regional average. There is no doubt that this reflects the consequences of economic choices centered more on manufacturing and jobs that make smart use of the territory’s resources and the shorter distances involved in marketing.

Expanding town centres won’t diminish poverty

The study also shows that the share of social benefits in the disposable income of the poorest is higher in city centres than the national average, amounting to 46% for the 10% of those with the lowest incomes. Conversely, for the 10% of people with the highest incomes in the same city centres, money from income properties represents on average 30% of disposable income. Although here it is not the essential element, one can infer that 20 years of tax exemptions available to individuals who take advantage of this windfall to become landlords of private rental housing have permitted them to grow wealthier, our taxes serving to increase their wealth a second time, for years, through the APL [1], the benefit to landlords amounting to some 94%, once it permits the tenant to become solvent.

Finally, it should be noted that 77% of the poor population live within the 230 large urban areas of metropolitan France. 65% are in major urban centres, of which 20% are in urban Paris. In other words, enlarging town centres by strongly focusing employment and economic activities therein won’t diminish poverty. It is even worth bearing in mind that housing segregation on large housing estates poses other problems for households who quit these same estates to become landlords of housing in distant suburbs, with the associated costs of transport and of loan repayments that put many among them on the edge of poverty.

3,536,000 people without any work

The study was made public in the wake of the publication of the French unemployment figures for the month of April. It calculated that there are 26,000 more unemployed people than in March for Category A, and a total of 3,536,000 people without any work. Add that to the more than 1,804,600 who have only a few hours of work per month, which keeps them in the unemployment category, with the level of poverty and insecurity that comes with it. Suffice it to say that poverty and financial insecurity have increased since 2012 due to the rise in unemployment. Let us add that the bad employment numbers, despite a modest rebound of growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, most likely conceals some perversities in the functioning of a deregulated economy. It’s particularly a question of illegal labour, to which the government and its Minister of Labour tend to close their eyes in sectors like construction, public works, and home-based jobs.

[1French housing benefit, "personalized housing aid"

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