Public Sector Shock

Public Sector Shock

The Impact of Policy Retrenchment in Europe

Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead

The goal of this volume is to study this ‘public sector shock’. While budgetary reforms seek to ensure a more balanced and sound economic policy, they may generate new work inequalities among public sector employees, most particularly among women, who account for a considerable proportion of public sector employment. Cuts in education and training may also have an impact on the quality of human capital in both the public and private sectors, despite the fact that the recent crisis has shown the value of education as employees with better skills and training are more likely to maintain their jobs and incomes.

Chapter 5: France: The public service under pressure

Jérôme Gautié

Subjects: economics and finance, labour economics, public sector economics, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy, labour policy


In France, the crisis that started in 2008 erupted in a context in which significant reforms had been introduced recently, affecting both the size and the organization of the public service, which plays a crucial role in France as it employs about one-fifth of the total workforce. This raises a methodological issue, as it may become difficult to disentangle, in the changes undergone by the public sector, what is due to reforms introduced before the crisis and what results directly from measures induced by the crisis. France is a good example of a mix of structural reforms and quantitative adjustments in the public service which raises the issue of how they are combined or when and where they may reveal inconsistencies. The issue is complex because if some structural changes result directly from policies intended to reform the public sector, others may also be induced by the quantitative adjustments themselves, such as job cuts, for instance, which may impact on public service organization and delivery.

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