France's poverty line is 60% of the median income, or 1,102 euros per monthly for an individual living on their own after taxes. However, the wealth threshold is not yet established. This is a limit beyond which one can be considered wealthy. The Observatory of Inequalities published its second Report on France's rich on June 1. It proposes that this threshold be set at twice the median living standard. The median standard of living is a way to divide the French population into two. Half of them live on less and half have more.
This definition says that we are rich at 3,673 euros per monthly after taxes for a single individual, 5,500 euros for couples without children, or 7,700 euros for couples with two children. This means that 4.5 million French live above the threshold. 7% of the population.
Louis Maurin is the Observatory of Inequalities director. He clarifies that this tool is only statistical. "We aren't claiming that it's a natural truth. It's a way to enter a house with extremely different circumstances." He points out, for instance, that those who live at a level that is just above the threshold of poverty often feel that they don't have enough money. Sometimes the word "rich" can be confused with ultra-rich people, multi-owners and big-business owners, or with those who are "only" wealthy. Louis Maurin says that the discourse of 99% against just 1% is demagoguery.
The Report on the Rich in France gives a list of the most lucrative private sector jobs with the highest monthly average salaries to give an idea of the French population of 4.5 million. We find, unsurprisingly, in this ranking highly skilled trades and management positions.
The report also notes that more than half of the top 1% are hospital managers and doctors. With an average salary of 13,800 euros per month, the best jobs in the public sector are those in consulates and embassies abroad. Next, there are high-ranking positions like prefects, ambassadors, or CEOs of public corporations, which average 10,500 euros per monthly.
The report proposes to redefine wealth as a threshold. A household is rich (rich in wealth) if it has at minimum three times the median wealth. With the median wealth at 163,000 euros per household this establishes a threshold of 490,000. This is where 16% of households live. The French have a wealthier population than they do wages.
Louis Maurin suggests that we should make a distinction between them. We should talk about the rich with income and the poor with heritage. "Heritage can be a form insurance that protects against risks over the long-term. It is something very powerful."
He emphasized the fact that when we are very interested in large fortunes, it is not a question of having second homes or vacations. It is a question of "strategies of power, representation and patronage to create an image to be able shelter entire generations of your descendants ."
The report states that Bernard Arnault could buy all the homes of the 868,000 residents of Marseilles or all of Lyon's inhabitants (which is less populated, but much more expensive). Francoise Bettencourt–Meyers could purchase all of Toulouse while the Hermes family could also buy all homes in Bordeaux, Francois Pinault and Lille.