Support for social integration and the elderly: contrasts at département level
The executive councils (conseils généraux) of French départements are key players in welfare programs. In 2009, 3.3 million people received welfare support from their département of residence, of whom 2.7 million under programs for social integration and the elderly. Logically enough, the proportion of recipients of the basic earned income supplement (Revenu de Solidarité Active [RSA] Socle) is greater in areas with the highest poverty rates. The connection between the poverty level of the elderly and the benefits they receive is also strong. Some départements such as Pas-de-Calais and Ariège report a somewhat larger proportion of people in precarious situations such as high unemployment (particularly long-term), children living in families with no working adult, poor single-parent families, and so on. Their percentages of RSA recipients and elderly on benefits are also high. The urban départements on the Mediterranean coast, from Pyrénées-Orientales to Bouches-du-Rhône, as well as the Nord and Seine-Saint-Denis, have a significant percentage of RSA recipients but a near-average proportion of elderly on benefits. By contrast, in départements that are more rural and have an older population, such as those of the Midi-Pyrénées, Massif Central, and Corsica regions, the percentage of elderly on benefits is high, but that of RSA recipients lies within the national average. In Paris, the share of recipients of the RSA and old-age benefits lies within the national average, despite high living standards.