Standard of living in France: where do you fit?

France is slowly recovering from the economic crisis and economic equality is actually shrinking new figures suggest. Where do you fit in, when compared to the rest of the population?

Standard of living in France: where do you fit?
The richest 10 percent of people in France had a standard of living of more than €37,200 in 2013. Photo: AFP

New figures from France’s national stats office Insee provide an insight into the economic health of the country’s households and revealed some noteworthy trends.

Significantly the stats revealed there had been the first fall in poverty rates since 2008, albeit a very slight one, with the niveau de vie (essentially the post-tax and social charges income of a household divided by number of people in each household) of the country's worse-off increasingly slightly for the first time since 2008.

Interestingly at the other end of the scale the post-tax income of France's most wealthy saw a slight decrease, due in the main to a rise in taxes, meaning that inequality in between rich and poor in France has actually decreased.

Although it's not yet perhaps time to celebrate with 14 percent of French people still living below the poverty line.

Here's the key stats:


The median post-tax income, or “niveau de vie”, in metropolitan France hardly changed in 2013, hitting €20,000 a year, or €1,667 a month. That means half the population had an income of more than €1,667 a month after the tax man had taken his share while the other 50 percent saw less than that amount coming in.

For a family of two adults and two children younger than 14, the median after-tax income was €3,500 a month in 2013, or 0.1 percent lower than a year earlier.


The richest 10 percent of people in France had an annual post-tax income of more than €37,200 in 2013. At the other end of the scale, for the poorest 10 percent this figure was lower than €10,730. In other words, the nation’s richest 10 percent have a standard of living more than 3.5 times higher than the poorest tenth.

But in a surprise finding, the standard of living for the poorest 10 percent climbed 1.1 percent in 2013, while the incomes of the country’s richest dropped 1.8 percent, suggesting a decrease in equality.


This was the median post-tax income of France’s jobseekers in 2013, up 2.3 percent on the previous year. However, over a third of people in this group live below the poverty threshold, set at €1,000 a month.

0.3 percent

The Insee study shows 14 percent of French people lived in poverty in 2013, down 0.3 percent on a year earlier, and the first fall in five years, bring the rate down to 2010 levels.

But while the news is positive, more French people still live in poverty than was the case in 2008 when that number was 13 percent.

8.6 million

The total number of people living in poverty in France in 2013 was 8.6 million people, with the median income for this group climbing slightly from €788 in 2012 to €802 a year later.

1.6 million

The number of young people in France aged 18 to 29 with an income of less than €1,000 was 1.6 million in 2013.     

SEE ALSO:  A portrait of modern France in ten key stats




Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


IN NUMBERS: The ‘worrying’ scale of poverty in France in 2020

How many poor people are there in France and what does 'poor' even mean today? A new report has shed light on the changing face of France's most deprived groups.

IN NUMBERS: The 'worrying' scale of poverty in France in 2020
Volunteers of the charity 'Les Restos du Coeur' distribute food in Toulouse, southern France, on November 24th, 2020. The organisation expects 1 million beneficiaries this year for the winter season,

Published on Thursday by l'Observatoire des inégalités (Observatory for inequalities), the report Poverty in France 2020-2021 drew a sombre picture of situation in France.

“France remains one of the best social models in the world that protects its poor better than most other rich countries,” the authors wrote, before adding “that does not mean that the situation is not worrying.”

The report was published to, according to the authors, set the scene of the situation before the real impact of the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

“We will pay the damages, by an awaited and devastating progression of unemployment,” they said.

Young people were in an especially concerning situation, they said, outlining the under-30s as the biggest losers of the looming social and economic crisis.

The data in the report come from France's national research institute Insee. Some of them date back to 2018, due to a lack of newer numbers.

Here are some of the key numbers revealed in the report.

€885 – The poverty threshold the Observatory operates with. Most public institutions use €900. That means that anyone with a monthly income averaging less than €900 after taxes is regarded as poor.

In comparison, France’s minimum wage is €1,219 net. The Observatory chose to use €885 because it allowed them to “focus on the populations struggling the most”

REVEALED: Where in France has the lowest cost of living?

5.3 million – the number of people in France living on less than €885 per month on average in 2018. In comparison the number of people living on less than €900 per month on average was nearly the double, 9 million. 

The remaining numbers are calculated based on the Observatory's poverty threshold of €885 per month.

8.3 percent – the percentage of poor people in France, or more than 5 million people out of a population of 67 million.

According to Luis Maurin, President and Director of the Observatory, France's poverty level is low compared to many other European countries. “But it’s still 5 million people who live with very little, with incomes that are very different from the rest of society,” he said in a video published on their website (clip below).

This number is expected to rise in the months to come due to the negative impact from the Covid-19 health crisis on the economy.

0.4 percent – the rate of which poverty in France grew between 2013-2018. That means that back in 2013, 7.9 percent of France’s population was poor compared to 8.3 percent now. “It’s not an explosion, but it still represents 350,000 additional poor people,” Maurin said.

30 – half of France's poor were below 30 years old. Young people were those the most impacted by poverty at the time the statistics were collected and the report have outlined them as the biggest future losers of the economic downturn caused by Covid-19. 

12.5 percent – the percentage of all 18 to 25-year-olds  below the poverty threshold, a number that has been growing for years and is expected to grow in the future.

8.2 percent – the percentage of 18 to 25-year-olds who lived below the poverty threshold back in 2002.

5.5 million – the number of people in France who received food aid in 2017.

56 percent – the percentage of the French population who said the government is not doing enough to help the poorest groups of the population.

9 percent – the percentage of the French population who said the government is doing too much.