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QUALITY OF LIFE

Survey shows that strong majority of the French are ‘happy’

Their international reputation inclines more towards the grumpy, but the latest national mood survey shows that most French people are 'happy' and a significant amount are even 'very happy'.

Survey shows that strong majority of the French are 'happy'
Pedestrians cross the Champs-Elysee avenue in front of the Arc De Triomphe monument in Paris. (Photo by AFP)

The study by the Elabe Institute showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were happy, and a third (32 percent) even said they were “very happy” – despite serious concerns about the rising cost of living and the climate crisis.

While these figures are down on the 2021 study, which showed 11 percent more French people responding that they were “happy” and seven percent more saying they were “very happy,” it is safe to say that the French population is still quite content.

However, the survey did show some differences when considering certain factors.

READ MORE: MAP: Where are the happiest areas of France?

Income level

81 percent of people who “make ends meet without financial restrictions” reported being happy, while only 54 percent who experience financial restrictions said they were happy.

The same was true within companies – executives and heads of organisations were much more likely to say they were happy (87 percent) than their subordinates.

Political preferences

When looking at how French people voted – 77 percent of the people who supported President Emmanuel Macron in the first round of the presidential election responded that “things are going well” when asked in the survey their personal situation.

This is higher than both people who voted further to the political Left and Right. As for those who supported Left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon in the first round, 63 percent said “things are going well.” This number was even lower for first-round supporters of Marine Le Pen – only 58 percent said “things are going well.”

Inflation and climate change

Almost all the people surveyed (91 percent) said they were concerned about a loss of household purchasing power due to inflation in the coming months.

And the French mood has dropped since October 2021, when the last survey was conducted. Overall, respondents feel less confident than they did last year (-4 percent), less “serenity” (-5 percent) and less satisfaction (-7 percent). 

People also feel generally more weary, nostalgic, sad, angry, and fearful than they did in 2021.

Many are particularly concerned about how global issues like the climate crisis and inflation could impact their daily lives. 89 percent reported being worried that their day-to-day life will deteriorate as a result of price increases, and 85 percent reported being afraid of the consequences of climate change (eg flooding, natural disasters, and drought).

A large number of French people (74 percent) also said that they worry about their health deteriorating due to pollution and environmental problems.

Other surveys echo these results, showing an increase in concern over climatic events in France, particularly since the summer of 2022, which was marked by three significant heatwaves, forest fires, and widespread drought.

READ MORE: France records 10,000 excess deaths in second hottest summer on record

A poll published in August by Odoxa showed that seven out of ten French people “fear being personally affected by a climatic hazard.”

Of those feeling climate-anxious, age played a role, with 81 percent of those under 25 responding that they are personally afraid, in comparison of 62 percent of those aged over 65. 

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POLITICS

Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Twitter's new boss Elon Musk on Thursday, saying the entrepreneur was wrong to drop the fight against Covid disinformation as he slashes back content moderation on the platform.

Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

With his country facing a fresh surge in coronavirus infections, Macron said the subject of misleading Covid information should be addressed head on, not swept under the rug.

“I think this is a big issue,” Macron, on a state visit to the United States, told broadcaster ABC. “What I push very much, for one, is exactly the opposite: more regulation.”

He said such protections have been implemented and enforced in France and “at the European level.”

Freedom of expression remains paramount, Macron insisted, “but there is responsibilities and limits” to what can be written and disseminated.

“You cannot go into the streets and have a racist speech or anti-Semitic speech,” the French leader said. “You cannot put at risk the life of somebody else. Violence is never legitimate in democracy.”

Macron’s concept of freedom of expression within acceptable limits is far from the libertarian approach of Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist” who has sacked many of the Twitter employees tasked with content moderation.

Musk has begun to allow Twitter users banned from the platform for posting disinformation, such as former US president Donald Trump, to return.

And it emerged this week that Twitter has stopped enforcing a rule preventing users from sharing misleading information about Covid-19 and vaccine effectiveness.

The billionaire Musk has made no secret of his fierce opposition to health restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic, especially when they meant the temporary shuttering of his Tesla electric vehicle factory in California.

“To say that they can not leave their house and they will be arrested if they do… this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom,” Musk raged in April 2020 on a conference call with analysts.

On Wednesday the European Union issued a sharp warning to Musk, saying he must do “significantly” more to fight disinformation, such as reinforcement of content moderation, in order to comply with EU law.

“There is still huge work ahead” for Twitter, said Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market.

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