Destinations Magazine

French Reforms: Must We Work Harder?

By Stizzard
French reforms: Must we work harder?

INSPIRED by the wartime programme of the National Resistance Council, the French welfare state was designed to “free workers from the uncertainty of tomorrow” by giving them publicly financed insurance against illness, joblessness, maternity, invalidity and old age. Over the past 60 years, France’s vast social-security system has nearly tripled in size. Public social spending now accounts for 32% of GDP, more than in any other member of the OECD club of rich countries (see chart).

French reforms: Must we work harder?

For the Socialist Party, now in power under President François Hollande, changes to the welfare state have been all about social “progress”. François Mitterrand cut the retirement age from 65 to 60. Lionel Jospin, a former prime minister, brought in universal top-up health coverage for the poor. Previous reforms that, on the contrary, tightened pension or welfare rules were done by the political right. Now, thanks to stretched public finances and recession, Mr Hollande will…

The Economist: Europe

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