Study and Research

Our expertise in the field of poverty prevention

In addition to its operational activities, Break Poverty conducts research to better understand the mechanisms contributing to the reproduction of poverty. This research has one main objective : to imagine tomorrow’s solutions to prevent poverty.

Our observation: the reproduction of poverty, a complex phenomenon

The OECD ranks France 21st out of 22 in terms of social determinism, since it would take 6 generations to escape poverty[1] ,while the average for OECD countries is 4, and 2 to 3 for countries such as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden[2].

We know that this social determinism is built up from early childhood: at the age of three, a child from a poor family knows 500 fewer words than a child from a wealthy family[3]. A gap that French schools are failing to reduce. Indeed, the French school system ranks 35th out of 38 OECD countries participating in the PISA survey in terms of educational inequality[4]. In other words, it is one of the school systems where the link between precariousness and poor school results is the strongest. As a result, children of parents from disadvantaged social backgrounds are on average four times more likely to leave school without a diploma[5]. In France, nearly 50% of a young adult’s future standard of living depends on his or her level of education, which explains why a child from a wealthy family is 4.5 times more likely to belong to the top 20% than a child from a precarious family[6].

These few lines underline the extent to which the reproduction of poverty is a complex phenomenon, requiring action to be taken on many aspects of a child’s pathway (family environment, school environment, etc.) and at different points in that journey (early childhood, schooling, access to employment).

Understanding these complex mechanisms in order to identify concrete solutions is the aim of our research and studies.


Our ambition: an in-depth understanding aiming at identifying concrete actions to prevent poverty

Sociologists, economists, anthropologists—the research world in the field of poverty studies is rich and the productions are numerous. Our ambition is to make existing research operational in order to identify concrete actions to implement.

More specifically, the spirit of the work conducted within Break Poverty rests on three imperatives:

  • Popularization: achieving clear explanations of complex problems.
  • Field Anchoring: capitalizing on our operational presence in more than 40 territories in France to conduct our analyses.
  • Solution Orientation: identifying concrete solutions that can be implemented by the Break Poverty Foundation or other interested public and private actors.

To achieve this ambition, Break Poverty Foundation has an internal team dedicated to research and studies. This team also relies on external expertise (sociologists, economists, researchers, specialized consultants, etc.) when necessary.

Our productions: analysis notes to understand, and strategic studies to take action

In the spirit of popularization and practicality, our teams produce two types of freely accessible works:

  1. Analysis notes: These works help to better understand a specific issue and provide interested parties with keys to decrypt the phenomenon. You can freely download them below (in French).
Overview of early childhood care in France

Access to childcare is a key factor to prevent inequalities from an early age. However, this access is far from being equal in France. This note explains why.

Youth poverty in France: our system to tackle poverty is not up to the challenge. Why is that?

A detailed analysis of the French system to tackle poverty and its many shortcomings. Comparisons with other European countries, detailed at length in this note, provide a new perspective to understand why young people are today the poorest population in our country.

Are the French becoming poorer ?

A note that helps to better understand the recent developments of poverty: is it increasing? is it changing? how is it perceived in France?

Aide Sociale à l'enfance : understanding

How does Child Welfare Assistance work? What are the reasons for placing young people? How are they welcomed and what becomes of them? A note that will help you better understand these different elements.

Child and youth poverty in numbers

How many children and young people are poor in France? What proportion comes from single-parent families, large families, inactive families? How many live in urban, rural areas? etc. All the answers are in this analysis note.

2. Strategic studies: these studies offer a comprehensive analysis of a key issue for the reduction of poverty. They identify concrete solutions to be implemented by the public and private players concerned.

Inequalities from an early age

The reproduction of poverty manifests itself early, very early, with gaps in language skills visible as early as age 2. Are these development gaps irremediable? How do they develop? What can be done to reduce them? What could be done better? The study provides answers to these questions. It is the starting point for an alliance to prevent inequalities from the earliest age.

June 2024
Youth dropout: understanding and taking action

Who are the dropouts? What is their background? What are we doing to support them? What could we do better? This study provides the keys to understanding young people's dropout rates, and invites us to take collective action to deal with the emergency.

January 2022

To find out more

Contact Christophe Sanchez, Director of Studies and Strategy.

Site web photos

Photo credits : Windows Unsplash, Rodrigo Pereira Unsplash, Nicole Honeywill Unsplash et RFstudio Pexels

[1] De manière plus précise, il faut 6 générations pour que les personnes issues du premier décile se hissent au niveau de revenu moyen

[2] OCDE (2018), L’ascenceur social en panne ? Comment promouvoir la mobilité sociale.

[3] Hart B., Risley T. (2004), The Early Catastrophe, Education Review

[4] OCDE (2018), Résultats du PISA 2018, Fiche pays France

[5] Bernard P.Y (2012), Le décrochage scolaire est-il une affaire de classes ?, Revue de santé scolaire et universitaire

[6] France Stratégie (2018), Nés sous la même étoile ? Origine sociale et niveau de vie, Note d’analyse n°68