Claims about France

From Henry Samuel, reporting some claims by Jean-Philippe Delsol:

More than half of the active French population is living off the state, according to figures in a new book by a tax lawyer seeking to explain why so many of his clients in private enterprise are leaving France.

With the country on the brink of nationwide tax revolt, Why I’m Going to Leave France, published this week, has thrown more fuel on the fire by suggesting that 14.5 million people out of the country’s 28 million-strong workforce are — one way or another— making a living off taxpayers’ money. To reach the figure, the author begins with France’s or civil servants, of which there are 5.2 million and whose number has increased by 36% since 1983. These represent 22% of the workforce compared with a European average of 15%, leading him to conclude that France has 1.5 million too many “fonctionnaires”.

He then adds the 3.2 million unemployed people in France relying on state benefits, another 1.3 million taking low-income handouts, a further two million in the “parapublic” sector — majority state-owned companies — and more than a million people in state-funded associations such as charities. Under the current Socialist government, there are 750,000 state-subsidized jobs and the author includes a million people in the agricultural sector who rely largely on contributions from European Common Agricultural Policy subsidies.

He said that the figures in his book were only logical. “When you consider that public spending in France now accounts for 57% of gross domestic product, it’s only natural that more than half of the active workforce are paid with public money,” Mr Delsol told The Daily Telegraph.

A simple theoretical first cut at these numbers suggests they bring greater cyclical stability in the short run, inferior growth over time.

For the pointer I thank the excellent MacroDigest.


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