Evidence from Europe
Edited by Daniel Vaughan-Whitehead
Chapter 5: France: Protecting the Insiders in the Crisis and Forgetting the Outsiders?
Jérôme Gautié* 1. INTRODUCTION Like many other countries, France was seriously hit by the recent crisis. Gross domestic product (GDP) fell sharply from the second quarter of 2008, and 300,000 jobs were lost during 2008–2009. The unemployment rate jumped from 7.2 per cent at the beginning of 2008 to 9.5 per cent at the beginning of 2010, the highest level since 1999. But the loss of jobs was not the only consequence of the crisis: many workers saw their wages reduced, because of a reduction in their working time and/or hourly compensation. All workers were not affected the same way. At first sight, an economic crisis should exacerbate inequalities – between the ‘losers’ who have lost their job or experienced a wage drop – and the ‘lucky ones’, who have not. But assessing the detailed impact of the crisis on inequalities is a quite complex matter. The first reason for this is the difficulty of clearly identifying outcomes with appropriate data. If data on employment are easily and rapidly available, data on wages and outcomes and, even more, on working conditions, may not be available without delay, or in sufficient detail. But, even when data are available, difficulty arises from the timing of the different impacts of the crisis. One must differentiate between the short-term and mediumor long-term effects of the crisis. In the long term, the so-called ‘hysteresis’ effects should in particular be taken into account. The employability of the long-term unemployed, but also of new entrants...
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