France, social portraitEdition 2017
France, Social Portrait is for everyone who would like to learn more about French society. This cross-cutting publication in the “Insee Références” collection throws the spotlight on people, neither rich nor poor, but located in the middle of the scale of standards of living in France, and often little studied. Around forty themed information sheets summarise the main data and provide European comparisons, to complete this social panorama.
A large proportion of median households are made up of traditional families and low-skilled workers
In 2014, households whose standard of living were recorded as being between 90% and 110% of the median standard of living, referred to as “median households”, amounted to 11.6 million people, which is 18.7% of the population of mainland France. Between 1996 and 2014, the proportion of the population living in median households grew by 1.5 percentage points. This slight concentration towards the median group over the last twenty years has occurred to the detriment of all the other standard of living groupings.
Compared to the other household groupings, the median group is the one with the strongest concentration of traditional families. In contrast, single-parent households are under-represented in this group: only 4% of people of median standard of living live in single-parent families, compared with 20% for the poor.
The 9 million people living in median households have a sociodemographic make-up that is overall close to that of the general population. They are distinguishable from the others by their relative lack of qualifications. A quarter of them do not hold a degree, a proportion that is much higher than in the fairly well-off and well-off groups. Contrastingly, only 10% obtained qualifications past the Bac + 2* , a level close to the one observed in modest or poor households. Regarding links to migration, median households are very close to better-off households, and are clearly distinguishable from poor households which contain the highest concentration of immigrants and people descended from immigrants. The sociodemographic characteristics of people in the median group barely changed between 1996 and 2014, likewise for their position compared to other household groups.
While people belonging to median households all naturally have a similar standard of living, they do not, however, constitute a homogeneous population. We therefore differentiate between six profiles: traditional families make-up the largest group, followed by couples aged 55 and over, divorcees, young people, highly skilled workers and finally widows.
*: This is a two-year graduate qualification in France. It is not as high a qualification as a graduate degree, has no equivalent in the British school system, and is now defunct in France.