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.
Was there a polarisation of paid employment between 1988 and 2014 in France?
An analysis of the socioprofessional groups and the content of employment in terms
From 1988 to 2014 in France, the make-up of paid employment regarding socioprofessional groups evolved. Disregarding wage earners of private employers, the proportion of groups that were the highest paid in 1988 greatly increased, to the detriment of the groups with intermediary and low incomes. This situation differs from the phenomenon of strong polarisation at the two extremities of the distribution, which has been observed in other countries, particularly the USA.
This evolution of the make-up of paid employment in France might have exacerbated income inequalities. However, these inequalities remained stable over the same period, mainly due to changes to the nature of the labour supply. With the democratisation of the education system, the qualification level of wage earners rose. The skilled labour supply greatly increased over the period, which led to less access, for certain qualification levels, to the highest paid jobs, and to a relative drop in the price of skilled work.
The labour demand also evolved, in particular due to the effect of technical progress and automisation. The socioprofessional groups that were carrying out the most routine tasks are those whose numbers have decreased the most.