INSEE published on Tuesday in its “social portrait” a series of enlightening statistics on the development of French society for forty years. Very often, the French say they are pessimistic about a situation that has not deteriorated that much.

INSEE publishes in its “social portrait” a series of enlightening statistics on the evolution of French society over the past forty years.

French people who live better and in better health but who are more worried about the future: this is the portrait that INSEE draws up of French society today, compared to that of the 1990s. Here are five emblematic data which say a lot about this evolution:

Women have taken the social elevator

Blocked, the social elevator? Not for women, who have experienced high social mobility since the 1970s. In 2015, 71% of French women aged 35 to 59, active or formerly employed, belonged to a socio-professional category different from that of their mother. . This is 12 points more than in 1997. Compared to their father, the rate of social mobility of women has increased, but more moderately. Overall, the social mobility of women has increased more than that of men, which has remained stable compared to the 1970s. For everyone, upward mobility remains more frequent than downward mobility, but the transmission of social inequalities tends to increase. to stagnate since the 1990s.

Women have experienced greater social ascent than men since the 1970s.

Women have experienced greater social ascent than men since the 1970s.

This mobility of women has been accompanied by a better acceptance of women’s work. In 2019, three out of four French people consider that women “should work when they want”. They were only 30% to say it in 1979. This opinion especially progressed in the popular classes where the work of the women was still badly perceived in the years 1970.

The favorable opinion towards women's work increased more in working-class circles than among university graduates, where it was already well accepted in the 1970s.

The favorable opinion towards women’s work increased more in working-class circles than among university graduates, where it was already well accepted in the 1970s.

Read also:

Despite the 35 hours, executives work almost as much as in the 1970s

· Towards a stabilization of divorces?

Would marriages celebrated since the 2000s be stronger? It will undoubtedly be necessary to wait for the next INSEE survey to confirm it, but its “social portrait” reveals a tendency towards the stabilization of divorces. Separations have increased sharply since 1975. Thus, 5% of marriages concluded in 1975 lasted less than five years, against 9% of those concluded in 2010. “However, if between 1975 and 2000, the proportion of marriages broken before five years or ten years was up, it seems to stabilize for marriages after 2000, ”notes INSEE, which moreover does not provide statistics for PACS breaks.

Read also:

The standard of living of mothers falls permanently after separation

Less inequalities than in the 1970s

Contrary to popular belief, inequalities in the standard of living after redistribution are lower today than in the 1970s. The trend is not, however, linear. The Gini index, which measures the gap in living standards between the richest and the poorest, fell sharply until the mid-2000s, then rose again after the 2008 financial crisis. This index fell sharply in 2013 and finally settled in 2016 at a level close to 1990.

French people pessimistic about their standard of living

In forty years, the view that the French have of their standard of living has deteriorated considerably. In 1979, 46% believed that their personal standard of living had improved over the past ten years. They are no more than 24% to say it in 2019. This feeling contrasts with the statistics which show an overall positive evolution of the standard of living of the French, at least until the crisis of 2008 which marked a stagnation.

The French are more pessimistic about their standard of living, while they are living better.

The French are more pessimistic about their standard of living, while they are living better.

The feeling of being downgraded is much stronger among the less advantaged categories. In 2019, 30% of higher education graduates believe their standard of living has improved, compared to 13% for non-graduates.

The French are also more pessimistic about their state of health. Here again, the feeling is out of step with the statistics, since life expectancy has increased almost continuously for forty years. In 2019, 78% of people surveyed said that their state of health was satisfactory or very satisfactory, whereas they were 90% in 1979. For INSEE, this deterioration “may be linked to a transformation of the concept of good health , which is no longer restricted to the absence of disease or infirmity, but to a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, as defined by the World Health Organization ”.

Strong increase in immigration since the 2000s

France in 2019 had 2 million more immigrants than in the 1970s. Their share in the population remained stable, at 7.5%, from 1975 to the beginning of the 2000s, then has grown rapidly since. The origins of the populations have diversified. In 1975, the immigrant population came mainly from southern Europe and the Maghreb. Since 2000, migratory flows from sub-Saharan Africa and China have been expanding. Women and graduates are now much more represented in these flows, far from the image of the unskilled worker who came in the 1960s because of the need for labor.

New migratory flows have emerged since the 2000s.

New migratory flows have emerged since the 2000s.