Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Paul Kagame visits UNESCO HQ in Paris

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Flamboyant US Congressman's Instagram Lands Him in Bother

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Compromise buys Greece time and Jihadi John is unmasked (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Compromise buys Greece time and Jihadi John is unmasked (part 1)

Read more

#TECH 24

Drone vs. drone

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The future of agriculture

Read more

REVISITED

Yalta, the symbol of a new Cold War?

Read more

#THE 51%

Women in the workforce: IMF says closing the gender gap makes economic sense

Read more

ENCORE!

Taryn Simon, the hottest property in art photography

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 8.40 pm Paris time.

REPORTERS

REPORTERS

Latest update : 2012-02-07

The faces of French poverty

According to a recent survey, almost a quarter of French people have little or nothing left to live on at the end of the month. These "nouveaux poor" are students, single parents, casual workers and the elderly. Our reporter went to meet them.

With the rise in fixed expenses such as rent, public transport, electricity and healthcare, French people on small salaries are having difficulty making ends meet. Twelve to fifteen million of them, who live just above the poverty line of 954 euros per month, are struggling by the end of the month.

For various reasons -- including shame and embarrassment -- it was not easy to find people who would talk to me about their difficulties. Loriane, Régis, Juliette and Agnès were the four who did accept.

All of them have two things in common: they have to cover all of their expenses on their own, and do not own a home.

I was surprised by their feeling of guilt. They blame themselves much more than the government for their sometimes chaotic paths, for making the wrong decisions, or for not making the right choices at school.

But there is an unavoidable fact their stories illuminate: the minimum wage of around 1,100 euros a month is no longer enough to make ends meet. Like Juliette, 2.2 million workers have to combine several jobs in order to survive.

Elderly people find themselves in the same situation. The average state pension of France’s 15 million pensioners is only 1,200 euros.

In this context, it comes as little surprise that one prominent French charity -- the “Restos du cœur”, created by the late French comedian Coluche -- has seen a 25% increase in demand for food in the space of three years. For many French people the crisis is so severe that they are no longer ashamed to ask charities for help.

By Valérie Labonne

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2015-02-25 Pakistan

Pakistani Taliban set their sights on police

The Pakistani Taliban are targeting police in Karachi. Over 140 officers were killed last year, most of them victims of targeted assassinations.

Read more

2015-02-20 West Bank

Building in the West Bank

In the West Bank, Jewish settlements continue to expand. Some are authorised by the Israeli government, some not, but all are considered illegal by the international community...

Read more

2015-02-12 Tunisia

Tunisians flock to join the jihad

As Tunisia moves slowly forward on the path to democracy, the country is proportionally one of the biggest exporters of jihadist fighters. Over the past three years thousands of...

Read more

2015-02-05 India

India: the myth of 'Love Jihad'

In India, where religious tensions and violence are on the rise, Hindu extremists are accusing Muslims of practising “Love Jihad”. India’s Muslims deny these accusations and...

Read more

2015-01-16 Charlie Hebdo

Paris attacks: Who were the terrorists?

For three days, they spread fear and horror across France, killing 17 people before being shot dead by police. Their rampage began with an attack on satirical weekly Charlie...

Read more