NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Is France Becoming Another Sweden?

December 8, 1998

French workers are leaving their homeland in droves, desperate to escape the country's high taxes and hopelessly high unemployment rates.

  • The French socialist government now consumes 54 percent of the country's gross domestic product -- not far below Sweden's 63 percent take.
  • Its top marginal tax rate is 54 percent, and according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development France has fallen in the past three decades from 6th to 13th place in the world in per capita purchasing power.
  • One in every eight workers is out of a job and among the under 25 age-group the unemployment rate is 22 percent.
  • Social taxes cost employers at least 50 percent on top of employees' basic salaries -- compared to a maximum of 10 percent an employer pays in Britain.

Small wonder then that the average Frenchman is making about as much today as he did 20 years ago.

Rage is growing. The country has recently seen a series of violent demonstrations by young unemployed job seekers. In fact, juvenile crime has escalated 66 percent in the past five years.

But rather than getting mad, many are getting out. According to the country's Office of International Migration, 1.7 million French workers -- 7 percent of the total work force -- were employed abroad in 1997.

Source: Richard C. Morais, "Even the Chefs Are Leaving France," Forbes, November 30, 1998.


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