BRUSSELS -- French voters head into Sunday's final round of their presidential election more pessimistic about their lives than they have been in years. Thirty-seven percent rated their lives well enough to be considered "thriving" -- down sharply from 46% in 2011. Thriving in France has sunk to the same level it was at the height of the global economic and financial crisis.
Gallup classifies respondents as "thriving," "struggling," or "suffering" according to how they rate their current and future lives on a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10 based on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale. People are considered thriving if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and expectations for their lives in five years an 8 or higher. People who rate their current or future lives a 4 or lower are classified as suffering. All others are considered struggling.
France's economic recovery since the 2008 economic and financial crisis has been slow, and the downturn in French well-being may indicate that residents have lost confidence that their economic situations will improve in the near future. With little perceptible economic growth, the French are more pessimistic about their future lives than they have been since 2008.
Some of this pessimism is understandable given that more French residents since 2008 are struggling to make ends meet. Nearly one in four residents are finding it "difficult" or "very difficult" to get by on their present incomes. However, the large majority of people still say they are "getting by" or "living comfortably" on their present household incomes.
French expectations for their living standards have also taken a hit. One in four French adults think their standard of living is getting better, down from nearly one in three in 2011. Further, nearly half (45%) now expect their standard of living to get worse, up from 38% in 2011.
Gallup's findings on French perceptions support macroeconomic data that indicate France's economic recovery has run out of steam. French pessimism coincides with two quarters of unfavorable news about a stalling economy and a potential return to recession in the European Union.
One of the important issues in the current French election campaign is the debate about what will work best to solve Europe's economic woes -- austerity measures or initiatives that encourage new economic growth. For many French who believe they are already worse off than they were before the crisis, further austerity may not be an appealing option and could be a factor in their decisions on Sunday.
For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact SocialandEconomicAnalysis@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,000 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted between 2008 and 2012 in France. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error was ±3.8 percentage points in the 2012 survey and ranged from ±3.3 percentage points to ±4.1 percentage points for previous years' surveys. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.