SAN FRANCISCO, California — COVID-19 has impacted countries all over the world including developed countries like France. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in France has resulted in greater financial inequality, as it has pushed many people into poverty. With aid from both the French government and organizations that address poverty, France can successfully recover from the mass effects of the pandemic.
The Severity of COVID-19 in France
France significantly eased the restrictions of its first lockdown in June 2020, allowing cafes and restaurants to reopen. The country also lifted travel restrictions to other European countries. However, French President Emmanuel Macron implemented two more lockdowns for France. The country had a second national lockdown in October 2020, as it was the second Western European country to surpass 1 million cases.
Despite the lockdown, reports determined there were 1.5 million more cases, bringing the country’s total number of cases to more than 2.4 million at the end of the year. After lifting some restrictions from its second lockdown, France entered its third national lockdown in early April 2021 after a surge in occupancy of intensive care units. During its lockdown, all schools and non-essential stores shut down for four weeks, and the country implemented a curfew from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Since France’s first known case of COVID-19 in late December 2019, the country has recorded more than 6 million total cases and 112,000 deaths.
The Economic Impact of COVID-19
There was an 8.3% decrease in France’s economy in 2020, and the country has not seen a recession to this extent since World War II. For example, France’s travel and tourism sector’s contribution to the French economy decreased by 48.8% due to travel restrictions. As a result, that sector alone lost 193,000 jobs. Nationally, one can see the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in France through a surge in the country’s unemployment rate to 9.1% during the third quarter of 2020, which marked a two-year high. However, the unemployment rate decreased to 8.1% in the first quarter of 2021.
Poverty in France
According to a World Bank report, 150 million people around the world could enter extreme poverty by the end of 2021 because of the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in France. Before the pandemic, 9.3 million people lived below the 1,063-euros-per-month poverty line in France. Those who were poor had little opportunity to improve their lives, especially during the pandemic when unemployment rates reached a two-year high. As a result, retail workers, artisans and self-employed people were among those the pandemic most affected. Further, the number of French people in poverty has significantly increased to more than 1 million people during the pandemic. Recently, food banks and nonprofit organizations have been trying to help impoverished people in France.
Organizations like Secours Populaire Français, a nonprofit that addresses poverty, have helped those who COVID-19 has affected. The organization has been aiding people by providing emergency aid like food, clothing and housing. During the first lockdown, Secours Populaire Français provided food to 1.27 million people at one of its facilities.
In addition, federal aid has helped a lot of businesses and people. Namely, France has created a 1 billion euro solidarity fund to help businesses that lost revenue or had to close due to COVID-19. France also added 45 billion euros to COVID-19 relief in addition to 300 billion euros in loan guarantees. These will support the salaries of nearly 1 million people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. According to research by the Danske Bank, the government extended deadlines for social security and tax payments as well as giving sick leave payments for those caring for children.
Despite the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in France, there is a reason for hope. According to France’s central bank, the French economy is supposed to grow by 5.5% in 2021 after the 8.3% decrease in 2020. The impact of COVID-19 on poverty in France was significant. However, the provided aid from both organizations and federal aid can help people recover.
– Kyle Har