Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

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

2014-07-25 Islam

Halal tourism on the rise

The race to corner France’s Muslim market, which has already seen the development of such products as halal candy, cosmetics and clothing, has extended to holiday packages.

Read more

2014-07-18 Hong Kong

Hong Kong in rebellion against the 'motherland'

In 1997 Hong Kong was proud to re-establish its Chinese identity after more than 150 years under British colonisation. But the atmosphere has changed and Hong Kong is now in open...

Read more

2014-07-11 Pakistan

Exclusive: an unlikely victim of the 'War on Terror'

In the wake of the 9/11 terror attack, questions have been asked about the tactics used in former US president George W. Bush's "War on Terror". Extraordinary rendition saw many...

Read more

2014-07-04 Italy

Italy: Toxic Naples

Industrial sludge, all kinds of garbage and even nuclear waste... For years, organised crime dumped millions of tons of toxic waste on the outskirts of Naples. This contamination...

Read more

2014-06-27 Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland: Old wounds reopened in Belfast

Northern Ireland’s Good Friday agreement, signed in April 1998, put an end to thirty years of conflict between Nationalists and Republicans. Since its signature, traditional...

Read more