Have the reforms undertaken just before the appearance of Covid-19 and those taken within the framework of “whatever it takes” brought more benefits to the rich than to the poor? To this question, far from being politically neutral, INSEE answers in the affirmative, with supporting figures. The social and fiscal measures taken in 2020 and 2021 have made it possible to increase the standard of living of the inhabitants of metropolitan France by 1.1%, summarizes a study appearing in the 2022 edition of the book France, social profile, which appears this Tuesday, November 22.
But “this increase mainly benefits the wealthiest half of the population”, concludes INSEE, after dissecting the impact of each of the measures. More precisely, public support has made it possible to increase the overall standard of living of the French by 12.7 billion euros over the period 2020-2021. On average, this represents 280 euros per person per year over the two years. But for the wealthiest half, this figure rises to 420 euros on average, while it does not exceed 130 euros for the least favored categories of the population.
Without contesting the figures on the merits, Bercy wishes to qualify this observation. On the one hand, the entourage of the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, underlines that “the wealthiest half of the population” actually includes the bulk of the middle class battalions. The categories that have benefited the most from socio-fiscal measures in 2020-2021 are those located between the fifth and eighth decile of standard of living. In other words, who live with a net monthly budget (after tax transfers and benefits) of between approximately 2,000 and 3,000 euros.
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On the other hand, it is emphasized at Bercy, these disparities disappear if they are expressed in percentages rather than in euros. The poorest, with a standard of living of less than 833 euros per month, saw their standard of living increase by 1.1% over these two years, while for the richest the improvement was limited to 0.7 %. It is here again for the middle classes that the improvement has been the clearest, up to 1.6% – for those who live on 2,500 euros a month.
Finally, recalls a close friend of Bruno Le Maire, this observation by Insee relates to only two years, and not to the entire first five-year term and the year 2022, marked by the energy crisis. “It is difficult to say that we have not helped all French people massively”, we insist at Bercy. Be that as it may, this difference in the impact of the household support measures taken during the Covid-19 crisis finds an explanation in their very nature.
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