The economic consequences of the ongoing health crisis on the French population are dramatic, with an estimated one million people having fallen below the poverty line in 2020. Thirty percent of people from mid-income households saw their financial situation deteriorate during the first lockdown[1] and despite the partial lifting of the lockdown, the trend has continued with 43% of the working population in France saying they have sustained a drop in income[2]. The number of people claiming income support (revenu de solidarité) has also increased by 10% in the past year. Whether urban or rural, no region has been spared.

Those worst hit by the crisis include students with part-time jobs, temporary workers, but also entrepreneurs and artisans. According to Manuel Domergue, Director of Studies at the Abbé Pierre foundation, single-parent families, and particularly single mothers in occupations threatened by the crisis, are the new victims of poverty since Covid[3].

As a result, there is a real sense of insecurity among the French population. According to a recent survey, the fear of falling below the poverty line has increased by three percentage points since last year. One in four French people are already limiting their food intake and one in seven are skipping meals. Among the lowest wage earners, these figures increase to 46% and 38% respectively.

Tough times for the younger generations in particular

The younger generations have borne the brunt of the economic consequences of the health crisis, with 41% experiencing a decrase in income [4], forcing them to reduce their standard of living. According to non-profit organizations, the crisis has forced many young people to seek food aid and the related service offerings, which was not previously the case.

The crisis has disproportionately affected young people because they are more likely to have insecure jobs and are therefore the first victims of the economic crisis. Furthermore, young people entering the job market for the first time “haven’t accrued the minimum rights to be eligible for the aid provided to victims of the crisis,” explains Lucas Chancel, co‑Director of the World Inequality Lab at the Paris School of Economics.

Besides this general increase in poverty among young people in France, they are also faced with a number of challenges in terms of schooling. With the introduction of remote education, 44% of parents of schoolchildren believe their children have fallen behind and 15% expect that they will find it hard to catch up. These percentages increase to 57% and 33% respectively for parents with a qualification lower than the baccalauréat.

A compromised future?

The worst consequences are probably still to come. Some 800,000 jobs have already been cut and many others are threatened. Job offers open to young graduates fell by almost 40% in 2020 compared to 2019[5], which also compromises their professional integration on the job market.

The French population are aware of this, with 81% of those questioned considering that the risk of poverty is even higher for their children than for themselves[6]. The Observatoire des inégalités (French arm of the European network Inequality Watch) has underlined that the situation is disastrous because the health crisis will exacerbate a phenomenon that has emerged over the past twenty years, namely the impoverishment of large numbers of young people.

Check out our Connecting to Succeed initiative, which aims to accompany young jobseekers and prevent school dropout.


[1] INSEE, Conditions de vie pendant le confinement : des écarts selon le niveau de vie et la catégorie socio professionnelle, June 19, 2020

[2] Secours Populaire, Baromètre Ipsos / SPF 2020 : la précarité depuis la Covid 19, September 30, 2019

[3] France culture, Crise économique : qui sont les « nouveaux pauvres ?, October 7, 2020

[4] Baromètre Prism’ Emploi, Les jeunes et l’emploi – post première vague Covid, November 16, 2020

[5] France culture, Covid 19 : quand les diplômes n’aident plus à rentrer sur le marché du travail, Diane Berger

[6] Secours Populaire, Baromètre Ipsos / SPF 2020 : la précarité depuis la Covid 19, September 30, 2019


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