The French Wealth Divide

The French Wealth Divide

Inequality in France is one of the main drivers behind the present 'yellow vest' movement which is evidenced by the differences between different parts of the country when it comes to wealth. With its 13 regions, departments, and 36,000 town and villages, metropolitan France is home to 67 million citizens.'

Even though France’s high welfare spending helps keep inequality below the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average, the country’s recent “yellow vest” protests have exposed a prevelant societal divide. Proof of this growing gap between rich and poor in France is best showcased by official living standards data provided by the country’s statistics body INSEE, which classifies every town, department and region according to its inhabitants’ average household income (wages, pensions, benefits, property income).

For extra context, in France and in Europe the poverty line is determined by the living standards of the entire population, and a person whose income is below a certain threshold of the median standard of living is considered poor.


INSEE set the poverty line threshold in France at 60 percent of the median income, which in 2014 was equal to €1,020 per month. Unsurprisingly, the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France is the richest in the country, even though the gap between richest and poorest is more striking than elsewhere with a GDP per capita of €67,926 in 2018. It should be kept in mind that money isn’t everything. Ironically, the poorest region in France: Corsica is known as the country's 'Island of Beauty', with 19.8 percent of people living there living on less than the median income.

What do you think the French government can do to help bridge the gap between the rich and poor in France? Join the conversation below!