PARIS, France — After the economic crisis of 2008, many European countries experienced a boom of poverty. France was no exception. The determinant of poverty in France has been that of “relative poverty,” meaning that those under this category were living with an income far below the national average. Just last year, eight million French citizens were living in relative poverty.
In 2010, there were 350,000 more French residents living in relative poverty than the previous year, showing an increase in poverty rates directly after the economic crisis. A total of 8.6 million people, 14 percent of the population, were taking home less than 964 euros a month.
Those struggling from economic inequality the most are the youth. Nearly a quarter of those 18 years old to 25 years old are living below the poverty threshold. About 3.6 million are living in extremely poor housing conditions or are completely homeless.
In 2013, the French government convened to agree on a five-year plan to combat poverty issues within the country. This includes a 2.5 million Euro budget. The plan also includes raising healthcare ceiling standards to be able to reach 500,000 more residents under converge. To combat education problems that arise from poverty, the government plans to set aside 10 percent of daycare centers to become educational havens for low income children.
However, the French government is still in debt and has received criticism of a 2.5 million Euro anti-poverty movement; this equals roughly $3,358,000. A French official explained that although it is a pricey endeavor, letting so many remain out of work and not contributing to society and to the economy is much more costly in the end.
In January, France reported that its unemployment and poverty rates were at its worst since 1997. Some areas are more dramatically affected than others. For example, in the northern city of Roubaix, nearly 45 percent are living below the poverty line; while in wealthier Parisian suburbs, only 7 percent reside in poverty. Nine out of 10 of towns with the lowest poverty rates in France are found in the wealthy western Parisian suburbs and include Neuilly-sur-Seine and Versailles.
Just last year in 2013, 3.3 million French residents registered as unemployed. Not surprisingly, most of these 3.3 million are immigrants, making the bordering cities the poorest due to the influx of non-native residents.
However, poverty in France is not limited to rural villages. It is easy to let the glitz of the Parisian lifestyle be misleading, but Paris is home to a large portion of France’s poor.
Louis Maurin, a political analyst, noted that “Greater Paris is the perfect example of acute inequality.” There is great poverty in some of the northeastern suburbs, as well as a concentration of homeless. However, a large part of the entire country’s wealth is situated in the western suburbs of Paris.
Poverty in the famous Goutte d’Or, which is situated behind the Gare du Nord railroad station, has peaked at 36 percent. This is just one example of the growing economic inequality in Paris. Maurin stressed, “Despite the rise in house prices, big cities are still home to many poor people and in certain neighborhoods, the levels far exceed the national average.”
– Cambria Arvizo
Sources: The Local, BBC, France 24