- 46% of richest French are thriving, compared with 25% of poorest
- 56% of richest French living comfortably, compared with 22% of poorest
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Emmanuel Macron is the president of two Frances: one that is wealthy, thriving and approves of his leadership, and one that is poorer, isn't thriving and is calling for his resignation. Both are in flames right now amid the worst civil disturbances in France since the 1960s.
Earlier this year, before French anger over increases in the country's fuel tax boiled over, Macron's approval rating had slipped nationwide from 61% shortly after his election in 2017, to 49%. While Macron's approval among French in the wealthiest two income groups held steady in his first year in office, it dropped precipitously among those in middle- to lower-income groups, the same ones taking to the streets now.
|All French adults||61||49||-12|
|GALLUP WORLD POLL|
The riots over the planned increase in fuel taxes and the anger about more general living costs highlight the gaps between France's richest and poorest citizens. These gaps are evident not only in their ratings of Macron but also in other areas of their lives.
Poorer French Rate Their Lives Much Worse
The divides are glaring in the ratings people in these two Frances give their lives. While nearly half of French people in the top two income groups rate their lives positively enough to be considered "thriving," only about one in four people in the bottom two income groups do.
Gallup asks adults worldwide to evaluate their lives on the Cantril Self-Anchoring Striving Scale, where "0" represents the worst possible life and "10" represents the best possible life. Gallup classifies people as "thriving" if they rate their current lives a 7 or higher and their lives in five years an 8 or higher, and "suffering" if they rate both their current and future life situations a 4 or lower. Those in the middle are "struggling."
|All French adults||35||60||5|
|GALLUP WORLD POLL, May 24-June 20, 2018|
Many Poor French Struggling to Make Ends Meet
French citizens in the top two income brackets are more than twice as likely as those in the bottom two groups to say they are living comfortably. The majority of French (56%) in the top 20% say they are living comfortably, while nearly half (45%) of those in the next group say the same.
For the bottom income group, 22% say they are living comfortably, 45% are just getting by, and 31% are currently finding it difficult or very difficult to live on their current household income. An even smaller percentage of those in the second-lowest income group in French society, 19%, are living comfortably, 55% are getting by, and 26% find it difficult or very difficult to live on their current household income.
|Living comfortably||Getting by||Finding it difficult||Finding it very difficult|
|All French adults||34||43||18||4|
|GALLUP WORLD POLL, May 24-June 20, 2018|
While there is distinct division between the more affluent and less affluent segments of the French public in how they rate their lives and their household incomes, they are all more likely to see their living standards as getting worse, rather than improving. Forty percent or more of all five income brackets in French society say their living standards are getting worse.
|Getting better||Staying the same (vol.)||Getting worse|
|(vol.) = volunteered response|
|Gallup World Poll, May 24-June 20, 2018|
There has been substantial discussion among pundits, journalists and researchers about dissatisfaction among the poor and working classes throughout the developed world in recent years. This dissatisfaction has been linked to everything from the successful campaign for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, to the election of President Donald Trump in the U.S.
Before the final round of the 2017 French presidential election, it had appeared that dissatisfaction in France would result in a far-right populist coming to power in the form of Marine Le Pen of the National Front. At that time, Macron was hailed as an alternative who could reform France's economy and make the country more attractive to business, while maintaining the social safety net. This, in turn, was expected to eventually counter dissatisfaction among the French poor and working classes by creating more jobs and increasing wages, with little negative impact on the public.
However, based on the recent violence and the French public's assessments of their current life conditions and incomes, Macron has not yet delivered reform of the French economy that benefits everyone.
He has now suspended the fuel tax hikes and is reportedly considering a variety of security responses to the current unrest. A response to the riots based on rolling back the fuel tax increases and imposing additional security measures may succeed over the short term, but it will not address the clear economic disparities in French society and the dissatisfaction among the poor and working classes.
For complete methodology and specific survey dates, please review Gallup's Country Data Set details.
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