Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

REPORTERS

Argentina: The Kirchner era

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Tunisia presidential elections: Final day of campaigning ahead of Sunday's vote

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Holiday season: celebrating a secular Christmas

Read more

#THE 51%

Are toys really us?

Read more

ENCORE!

Child brides, the people of Syria and New York’s homeless

Read more

FOCUS

Video: Pakistan in mourning after school massacre

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Kenya: Security law approved despite disruptions in Parliament

Read more

DEBATE

Wrecked Rouble: Putin Defiant as Currency Tumbles (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Wrecked Rouble: Putin Defiant as Currency Tumbles (part 1)

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

2014-12-19 Argentina

Argentina: The Kirchner era

The woman dubbed by some the new Eva Perón is a divisive figure. Cristina Kirchner succeeded her husband, Nestor, as president of Argentina back in 2007. A year ahead of...

Read more

2014-02-14 Cameroon

Central African Republic and the 'convoy of hope'

Despite the presence of French troops and an African Union-led peacekeeping force, the situation in the Central African Republic remains extremely volatile. Clashes between the...

Read more

2014-12-12 China

China: An 'Africatown' in Guangzhou

With twelve million inhabitants, Guangzhou, in southern China, is the third largest city after Shanghai and Beijing. Like the rest of globalised China, it attracts people from...

Read more

2014-12-05 France

Do French Jews have reason to fear?

"For the first time in 70 years, France has become a country of Jewish emigration". This is how the Chairman of France’s Central Consistory, Joël Mergui, gloomily sums up the...

Read more

2014-11-28 Lebanon

Lebanon's Shebaa, a village caught in the crossfire

It’s just another small Sunni village in southern Lebanon. But Shebaa, a Hezbollah stronghold on the crossroads of Israel and Syria, is now a flashpoint in a spreading war. With...

Read more