Economy of France

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Economy of France
La Défense from the Arc de Triomphe, Paris 6 March 2015 003.jpg
La Défense is the financial hub of France
CurrencyEuro (EUR, €)
1 January – 31 December
Trade organisations
Country group
PopulationIncrease 67,098,824 (1 January 2020, provisional)[3]
  • Decrease $2.707 trillion (nominal; 2019 est.)[4]
  • Increase $3.062 trillion (PPP; 2019 est.)[5]
GDP rank
GDP growth
  • 1.7% (2018) 1.3% (2019e)
  • −7.2% (2020e) 4.5% (2021e)[5]
GDP per capita
  • Decrease $41,761 (nominal; 2019 est.)[4]
  • Increase $47,223 (PPP; 2019 est.)[4]
GDP per capita rank
GDP by sector
  • 0.3% (2020 est.)[5]
  • 1.3% (2019)[5]
  • 2.1% (2018)[5]
Population below poverty line
  • 5.5% or 13.2% with DOM-TOM
  • Negative increase 17.4% at risk of poverty or social exclusion (2018)[7]
Positive decrease 28.5 low (2018)[8]
Labour force
  • Increase 30,316,795 (2019)[11]
  • Increase 71.3% employment rate (Target: 75%; 2018)[12]
Labour force by occupation
  • Positive decrease 8.1% (May 2020)[13]
  • Positive decrease 8.1% with DOM-TOM (Q4, 2019)[14]
  • Negative increase 20.2% youth unemployment (Q4-2019)[15]
Average gross salary
€35,484 / $42,300 annually (2017)[16]
€26,700 / $30,840 annually (2017)[17]
Main industries
Steady 32nd (very easy, 2020)[18]
ExportsIncrease $549.9 billion (2017 est.)[6]
Export goods
machinery and equipment, aircraft, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, beverages
Main export partners
ImportsIncrease $601.7 billion (2017 est.)[6]
Import goods
machinery and equipment, vehicles, crude oil, aircraft, plastics, chemicals
Main import partners
FDI stock
  • Increase $858.3 billion (31 December 2017 est.)[6]
  • Increase Abroad: $1.429 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)[6]
Increase −$14.83 billion (2017 est.)[6]
$5.250 trillion (31 March 2017)[19]
Public finances
  • Steady 98.1% of GDP (2019)[20]
  • Negative increase €2.380 trillion (2019)[20]
  • €72.8 billion deficit (2019)[20]
  • −3.0% of GDP (2019)[20]
Revenues52.6% of GDP (2019)[20]
Expenses55.6% of GDP (2019)[20]
Economic aiddonor: ODA, $9.50 billion (2016)[21]
  • AA
  • Outlook: Stable
  • Aa2
  • Outlook: Stable
  • AA
  • Outlook: Stable
Foreign reserves
Increase $156.4 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.

The economy of France is highly developed and free-market-oriented.[25] It is the world's 7th largest economy by 2019 nominal figures and the 10th largest economy by PPP figures. It is the 2nd largest economy in the European Union after Germany.[26]

France has a diversified economy. The chemical industry is a key sector for France, helping to develop other manufacturing activities and contributing to economic growth.[27] France's tourism industry is a major component of the economy, as France is the most visited destination in the world.[28][29] Sophia Antipolis is the major technology hub for the economy of France. Paris is ranked as the most elegant city in the world, which propels the agglomeration of the fashion industry.[30] According to the IMF, in 2018, France was the world's 19th country by GDP per capita with $42,878 per inhabitant. In 2018, France was listed on the United Nations's Human Development Index with a value of 0.891 (indicating very high human development) and 21st on the Corruption Perceptions Index in 2018.[31][32] The OECD is headquartered in Paris, the nation's financial capital.

France's economy entered the recession of the late 2000s later and appeared to leave it earlier than most affected economies, only enduring four-quarters of contraction.[33] However, France experienced stagnant growth between 2012 and 2014, with the economy expanding by 0% in 2012, 0.8% in 2013 and 0.2% in 2014, though growth picked up in 2015 with a growth of 0.8% and a growth of 1.1% for 2016, to a growth of 2.2% for 2017 and to later reach 2.1% for 2018.[34] According to the OFCE, the expected 2019 growth rate is 1.3%[35][circular reference].


With 28 of the 500 biggest companies of the world in 2018, France ranks 5th in the Fortune Global 500, behind the USA, China, Japan and Germany

Several French corporations rank amongst the largest in their industries such as AXA in insurance and Air France in air transportation.[36] Luxury and consumer good are particularly relevant, with L'Oreal being the world's largest cosmetic company while LVMH and Kering are the world's two largest luxury product companies. In energy and utilities, GDF-Suez and EDF are amongst the largest energy companies in the world, and Areva is a large nuclear-energy company; Veolia Environnement is the world's largest environmental services and water management company; Vinci SA, Bouygues and Eiffage are large construction companies; Michelin ranks in the top 3 tire manufacturers; JCDecaux is the world's largest outdoor advertising corporation; BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Société Générale rank amongst the largest in the world by assets.

Carrefour is the world's second largest retail group in terms of revenue; Total is the world's fourth largest private oil company; Danone is the world's fifth largest food company and the world's largest supplier of mineral water; Sanofi Aventis is the world's fifth largest pharmaceutical company; Publicis is the world's third largest advertising company; PSA is the world's 6th and Europe's 2nd largest automaker; Accor is the leading European hotel group; Alstom is one of the world's leading conglomerates in rail transport.

Rise and decline of dirigisme[edit]

France embarked on an ambitious and very successful program of modernization under state coordination. This programm of dirigisme, mostly implemented by governments between 1944 and 1983, involved the state control of certain industries such as transportation, energy and telecommunications as well as various incentives for private corporations to merge or engage in certain projects.

The 1981 election of president François Mitterrand saw a short-lived increase in governmental control of the economy, nationalizing many industries and private banks. This form of increased dirigisme, was criticized as early as 1982. By 1983, the government decided to renounce dirigisme and start an era of rigueur ("rigor") or corporation. As a result, the government largely retreated from economic intervention; dirigisme has now essentially receded, though some of its traits remain. The French economy grew and changed under government direction and planning much more than in other European countries.

Despite being a widely liberalized economy, the government continues to play a significant role in the economy: government spending, at 56% of GDP in 2014, is the second highest in the European Union. Labor conditions and wages are highly regulated. The government continues to own shares in corporations in several sectors, including energy production and distribution, automobiles, transportation, and telecommunications. However these shareholdings are being rapidly sold, the state keeping mostly symbolic stakes in those companies (aside rail transportation and energy).

Government finance[edit]

French Government borrowing (budget deficits) as a percentage of GNP, 1960–2009.
France's public debt from 1978 to 2009
Composition of the French economy (GDP) in 2016 by expenditure type

In April and May 2012, France held a presidential election in which the winner François Hollande had opposed austerity measures, promising to eliminate France's budget deficit by 2017. The new government stated that it aimed to cancel recently enacted tax cuts and exemptions for the wealthy, raising the top tax bracket rate to 75% on incomes over a million euros, restoring the retirement age to 60 with a full pension for those who have worked 42 years, restoring 60,000 jobs recently cut from public education, regulating rent increases; and building additional public housing for the poor.

In June 2012, Hollande's Socialist Party won an overall majority in the legislative elections, giving it the capability to amend the French Constitution and allowing immediate enactment of the promised reforms. French government bond interest rates fell 30% to record lows,[37] less than 50 basis points above German government bond rates.[38]

National debt[edit]

The Government of France has run a budget deficit each year since the early 1970s. As of 2019, French government debt reached €2,331 billion an equivalent of 99.2% of French GDP.[39]

Under European Union rules, member states are supposed to limit their debt to 60% of output or be reducing the ratio structurally towards this ceiling, and run public deficits of no more than 3.0% of GDP.[40]

In late 2012, credit-rating agencies warned that growing French government debt levels risked France's AAA credit rating, raising the possibility of a future credit downgrade and subsequent higher borrowing costs for the French government.[41] In 2012 France was downgraded by ratings agencies Moody's, Standard&Poor's, and Fitch to the AA+ credit rating.[42][43]

In December 2014 France's credit rating was further downgraded by Fitch (and S&P) to the AA credit rating.[44]


The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2018.Inflation below 2% is in green.[45]

Year GDP
(in bil. Euro)
GDP per capita
(in Euro)
GDP growth
Inflation rate
(in Percent)
(in Percent)
Budget balance
(in % of GDP)
1980 453.2 Increase8,435 Increase1.8 % 13.1 % 6.2 % Decrease−0.4 %
1981 Increase511.7 Increase9,470 Increase1.1 % Negative increase13.3 % Negative increase7.4 % Decrease−2.4 %
1982 Increase587.9 Increase10.821 Increase2.5 % Negative increase12.0 % Negative increase8.1 % Decrease−2.8 %
1983 Increase652.8 Increase11,945 Increase1.2 % Negative increase9.5 % Positive decrease7.4 % Decrease−2.5 %
1984 Increase709.6 Increase12,927 Increase1.5 % Negative increase7.7 % Negative increase8.5 % Decrease−2.7 %
1985 Increase760.5 Increase13,788 Increase1.6 % Negative increase5.8 % Negative increase8.7 % Decrease−2.9 %
1986 Increase817.8 Increase14,759 Increase2.4 % Negative increase2.5 % Negative increase8.9 % Decrease−3.2 %
1987 Increase859.8 Increase15,442 Increase2.6 % Negative increase3.3 % Negative increase9.2 % Decrease−2.0 %
1988 Increase929.4 Increase16,607 Increase4.7 % Negative increase2.7 % Positive decrease8.8 % Decrease−2.5 %
1989 Increase1,001.8 Increase17,805 Increase4.4 % Negative increase6.6 % Positive decrease8.7 % Decrease−1.8 %
1990 Increase1,058.6 Increase18,711 Increase2.9 % Increase0.3 % Positive decrease8.4 % Decrease−2.4 %
1991 Increase1,097.1 Increase19,304 Increase1.0 % Negative increase3.4 % Negative increase8.6 % Decrease−2.8 %
1992 Increase1,136.8 Increase19,906 Increase1.6 % Negative increase2.5 % Negative increase9.4 % Decrease−4.6 %
1993 Increase1,148.4 Increase20,018 Decrease−0.6 % Negative increase2.2 % Negative increase10.3 % Decrease−6.3 %
1994 Increase1,186.3 Increase20,609 Increase2.3 % Increase1.7 % Negative increase10.7 % Decrease−5.4 %
1995 Increase1,225.0 Increase21,211 Increase2.1 % Increase1.8 % Positive decrease10.5 % Decrease−5.1 %
1996 Increase1,259.0 Increase21,730 Increase1.4 % Negative increase2.1 % Negative increase10.8 % Decrease−3.9 %
1997 Increase1,299.7 Increase22,365 Increase2.3 % Increase1.3 % Negative increase10.9 % Decrease−3.6 %
1998 Increase1,358.8 Increase23.307 Increase3.6 % Increase0.7 % Positive decrease10.7 % Decrease−2.4 %
1999 Increase1,408.1 Increase24,072 Increase3.4 % Increase0.6 % Positive decrease10.4 % Decrease−1.6 %
2000 Increase1,485.3 Increase25,235 Increase3.9 % Increase1.8 % Positive decrease9.2 % Decrease−1.3 %
2001 Increase1,544.6 Increase26,026 Increase2.0 % Increase1.8 % Positive decrease8.5 % Decrease−1.4 %
2002 Increase1,594.3 Increase26,711 Increase1.1 % Increase1.9 % Positive decrease8.3 % Decrease−3.1 %
2003 Increase1,637.4 Increase27,244 Increase0.8 % Negative increase2.2 % Negative increase8.5 % Decrease−3.9 %
2004 Increase1,710.7 Increase28,274 Increase2.8 % Negative increase2.3 % Negative increase8.8 % Decrease−3.5 %
2005 Increase1,772.0 Increase29,066 Increase1.7 % Increase1.9 % Negative increase8.9 % Decrease−3.2 %
2006 Increase1,853.2 Increase30,184 Increase2.4 % Increase1.9 % Positive decrease8.8 % Decrease−2.3 %
2007 Increase1,945.7 Increase31,486 Increase2.4 % Increase1.6 % Positive decrease8.0 % Decrease−2.5 %
2008 Increase1,995.8 Increase32,121 Increase0.3 % Negative increase3.2 % Positive decrease7.5 % Decrease−3.2 %
2009 Decrease1,939.0 Decrease31,041 Decrease−2.9 % Increase0.1 % Negative increase9.1 % Decrease−7.2 %
2010 Increase1,998.4 Increase31,841 Increase1.9 % Increase1.7 % Negative increase9.3 % Decrease−6.8 %
2011 Increase2,059.3 Increase32,651 Increase2.2 % Negative increase2.3 % Positive decrease9.2 % Decrease−5.1 %
2012 Increase2,086.9 Increase32,929 Increase0.3 % Negative increase2.2 % Negative increase9.8 % Decrease−4.8 %
2013 Increase2,115.3 Increase33,208 Increase0.6 % Increase1.0 % Negative increase10.3 % Decrease−4.0 %
2014 Increase2,149.8 Increase33,575 Increase1.0 % Increase0.6 % Steady10.3 % Decrease−3.9 %
2015 Increase2,198.4 Increase34,190 Increase1.1 % Increase0.1 % Negative increase10.4 % Decrease−3.6 %
2016 Increase2,234.1 Increase34,654 Increase1.1 % Increase0.3 % Positive decrease10.0 % Decrease−3.5 %
2017 Increase2,295.1 Increase35,309 Increase2.3 % Increase1.2 % Positive decrease9.4 % Decrease−2.8 %
2018 Increase2,353.1 Increase36,355 Increase1.8 % Negative increase2.1 % Positive decrease9.1 % Decrease−2.5 %

Economic sectors[edit]


2006 electricity production of France

  Nuclear power (78.1%)
  Hydroelectric power (11.1%)
  Fossil fuel power (9.5%)
  Other (1.3%)

The leading industrial sectors in France are telecommunications (including communication satellites), aerospace and defense, ship building (naval and specialist ships), pharmaceuticals, construction and civil engineering, chemicals, textiles, and automobile production.

Research and development spending is also high in France at 2.26% of GDP, the fourth-highest in the OECD.[46]


France is the world-leading country in nuclear energy, home of global energy giants Areva, EDF and GDF Suez: nuclear power now accounts for about 78% of the country's electricity production, up from only 8% in 1973, 24% in 1980, and 75% in 1990. Nuclear waste is stored on site at reprocessing facilities. Due to its heavy investment in nuclear power, France is the smallest emitter of carbon dioxide among the seven most industrialized countries in the world.[47]

In 2006 electricity generated in France amounted to 548.8 TWh, of which:[48]

  • 428.7 TWh (78.1%) were produced by nuclear power generation
  • 60.9 TWh (11.1%) were produced by hydroelectric power generation
  • 52.4 TWh (9.5%) were produced by fossil-fuel power generation
    • 21.6 TWh (3.9%) by coal power
    • 20.9 TWh (3.8%) by natural-gas power
    • 9.9 TWh (1.8%) by other fossil fuel generation (fuel oil and gases by-products of industry such as blast furnace gases)
  • 6.9 TWh (1.3%) were produced by other types of power generation (essentially waste-to-energy and wind turbines)
    • The electricity produced by wind turbines increased from 0.596 TWh in 2004, to 0.963 TWh in 2005, and 2.15 TWh in 2006, but this still accounts only for 0.4% of the total production of electricity (as of 2006).

In November 2004, EDF (which stands for Electricité de France), the world's largest utility company and France's largest electricity provider, was floated with huge success on the French stock market. Notwithstanding, the French state still retains 70% of the capital.

Other electricity providers include Compagnie nationale du Rhône (CNR) and Endesa (through SNET).


A wheat field in Île-de-France region.

France is the world's sixth largest agricultural producer and EU's leading agricultural power, accounting for about one-third of all agricultural land within the EU. In the early 1980's, France was the leading producer of the three principal grains of wheat, barley, and maize. Back in 1983, France produced around 24.8 million tonnes, which was a long way ahead of the United Kingdom and West Germany, the next two largest wheat producers.[49]

Northern France is characterized by large wheat farms. Dairy products, pork, poultry, and apple production are concentrated in the western region. Beef production is located in central France, while the production of fruits, vegetables, and wine ranges from central to southern France. France is a large producer of many agricultural products and is currently expanding its forestry and fishery industries. The implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) have resulted in reforms in the agricultural sector of the economy.

As the world's second-largest agricultural exporter, France ranks just after the United States.[50] The destination of 49% of its exports is other EU members states. France also provides agricultural exports to many poor African countries (including its former colonies) which face serious food shortages. Wheat, beef, pork, poultry, and dairy products are the principal exports.

Exports from the United States face stiff competition from domestic production, other EU member states, and third-world countries in France. US agricultural exports to France, totaling some $600 million annually, consist primarily of soybeans and soybean products, feeds and fodders, seafood, and consumer products, especially snack foods and nuts. French exports to the United States are much more high-value products such as its cheese, processed products and its wine.

The French agricultural sector receives almost €11 billion in EU subsidies. France's competitive advantage is mostly linked to the high quality and global renown of its produce, such as cheese and wine.


The Palace of Versailles is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.

France is the world's most popular tourist destination with more than 83.7 million foreign tourists in 2014,[2] ahead of Spain (58.5 million in 2006) and the United States (51.1 million in 2006). This figure excludes people staying less than 24 hours in France, such as northern Europeans crossing France on their way to Spain or Italy during the summer.

France is home to cities of much cultural interest (Paris being the foremost), beaches and seaside resorts, ski resorts, and rural regions that many enjoy for their beauty and tranquillity. France also attracts many religious pilgrims to Lourdes, a town in the Hautes-Pyrénées département, which hosts several million visitors a year.

According to figures from 2003, some popular tourist sites include (in visitors per year):[51] Eiffel Tower (6.2 million), Louvre Museum (5.7 million), Palace of Versailles (2.8 million), Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie (2.6 million), Musée d'Orsay (2.1 million), Arc de Triomphe (1.2 million), Centre Pompidou (1.2 million), Mont-Saint-Michel (1 million), Château de Chambord (711,000), Sainte-Chapelle (683,000), Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg (549,000), Puy de Dôme (500,000), Musée Picasso (441,000), Carcassonne (362,000). However, the most popular site in France is Disneyland Paris, with 9.7 million visitors in 2017 [52]

Arms industry[edit]

The French arms industry's main customer, for whom they mainly build warships, guns, nuclear weapons and equipment, is the French government.

Record high defence expenditure (currently[when?] at €35 billion), which was considerably increased under the government of Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, goes largely to the French arms industries.[citation needed]

During the 2000–2015 period, France was the fourth largest weapons exporter in the world[53][54]

French manufacturers export great quantities of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Greece, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, Singapore and many others.

It was reported that in 2015, French arms sales internationally amounted to 17.4 billion U.S. dollars,[55] more than double the figure of 2014.[56] Vice News explained that "While the United Kingdom has lapsed somewhat in this regard, France has maintained a high-level of production of military equipment for land, air, and sea defense – an expensive approach that relies on the export of arms and technology."[57]


Transportation in France relies on one of the densest networks in the world with 146 km of road and 6.2 km of rail lines per 100 km2. It is built as a web with Paris at its center.[58] The highly subsidised rail transport network makes up a relatively small portion of travel, most of which is done by car. However the high-speed TGV trains make up a large proportion of long-distance travel, partially because intercity buses were prevented from operating until 2015.

France also boasts a number of seaports and harbours, including Bayonne, Bordeaux, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Brest, Calais, Cherbourg-Octeville, Dunkerque, Fos-sur-Mer, La Pallice, Le Havre, Lorient, Marseille, Nantes, Nice, Paris, Port-la-Nouvelle, Port-Vendres, Roscoff, Rouen, Saint-Nazaire, Saint-Malo, Sète, Strasbourg and Toulon. There are approximately 470 airports in France and by a 2005 estimate, there are three heliports. 288 of the airports have paved runways, with the remaining 199 being unpaved. The national carrier of France is Air France, a full service global airline which flies to 20 domestic destinations and 150 international destinations in 83 countries (including Overseas France) across all 6 major continents.

Labour market[edit]

According to a 2011 report by the American Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), France's GDP per capita at purchasing power parity is similar to that of the UK, with just over US$35,000 per head.[59] To explain why French per capita GDP is lower than that of the United States, the economist Paul Krugman stated that "French workers are roughly as productive as US workers", but that the French have allegedly a lower workforce participation rate and "when they work, they work fewer hours". According to Krugman, the difference is due to the French making "different choices about retirement and leisure".[60]

The labour productivity level of France is one of highest in Europe. OECD, 2015[61]

Keynesian economists sought out different solutions to the unemployment issue in France, and their theories led to the introduction of the 35-hour workweek law in 1999. Between 2004 and 2008, the government attempted to combat unemployment with supply-side reforms, but was met with fierce resistance;[62] the contrat nouvelle embauche and the contrat première embauche (which allowed more flexible contracts) were of particular concern, and both were eventually repealed.[63] The Sarkozy government used the revenu de solidarité active (in-work benefits) to redress the allegedly negative effect of the revenu minimum d'insertion (unemployment benefits which do not depend on previous contributions, unlike normal unemployment benefits in France) on the incentive to accept even jobs which are insufficient to earn a living.[64]

French employment rates for 15–64 years is one of the lowest of the OECD countries: in 2012, only 71% of the French population aged 15–64 years were in employment, compared to 74% in Japan, 77% in the UK, 73% in the US and 77% in Germany.[65] This gap is due to the low employment rate for 15–24 years old: 38% in 2012, compared to 47% in the OECD. Neoliberal economists attribute the low employment rate, particularly evident among young people, to allegedly high minimum wages that would prevent low productivity workers from easily entering the labour market.[66]

A December 2012 New York Times article reported on an allegedly "floating generation" in France that formed part of the 14 million unemployed young Europeans documented by the Eurofound research agency.[67] In the same article, Anne Sonnet, a senior economist studying unemployment at the OECD claimed that nearly two million young people in France had given up looking for employment at that time, while French labour minister Michel Sapin said that 82 percent of people hired were only on temporary contracts. Sapin further explained that, in his opinion, the challenge at that time was to create a more flexible system, in which greater trust existed between unions and companies, and "partial unemployment" was accommodated during difficult periods. The so-called floating generation was attributed to an allegedly dysfunctional system: "an elitist educational tradition that does not integrate graduates into the work force, a rigid labour market that is hard to enter for newcomers, and a tax system that makes it expensive for companies to hire full-time employees and both difficult and expensive to lay them off".[68] In July 2013, the unemployment rate for France was 11%.[69]

In early April 2014, employers' federations and unions negotiated an agreement with technology and consultancy employers, as employees had been experiencing an extension of their work time through smartphone communication outside of official working hours. Under a new, legally binding labour agreement, around 250,000 employees will avoid handling work-related matters during their leisure time and their employers will, in turn, refrain from engaging with staff during this time.[70]

Everyday, about 80,000 French citizens are commuting to work in neighbouring Luxembourg, making it the biggest cross-border workforce group in the whole of the European Union.[71] They are attracted by much higher wages for the different job groups than in their own country and the lack of skilled labour in the booming Luxembourgish economy.

External trade[edit]

France is the second-largest trading nation in Europe (after Germany).[72] Its foreign trade balance for goods had been in surplus from 1992 until 2001, reaching $25.4 billion (25.4 G$) in 1998; however, the French balance of trade was hit by the economic downturn, and went into the red in 2000, reaching a US$15bn deficit in 2003. Total trade for 1998 amounted to $730 billion, or 50% of GDP—imports plus exports of goods and services. Trade with European Union countries accounts for 60% of French trade.

In 1998, US–France trade stood at about $47 billion – goods only. According to French trade data, US exports accounted for 8.7% – about $25 billion – of France's total imports. US industrial chemicals, aircraft and engines, electronic components, telecommunications, computer software, computers and peripherals, analytical and scientific instrumentation, medical instruments and supplies, broadcasting equipment, and programming and franchising are particularly attractive to French importers.

The principal French exports to the US are aircraft and engines, beverages, electrical equipment, chemicals, cosmetics, luxury products and perfume. France is the ninth-largest trading partner of the US.

Export in Billion US-Dollar
Rank Country[73] Export
1.  Germany 70.1
2.  United States 40.4
3.  Belgium
4.  Italy 35.3
5.  United Kingdom 35.3
6.  Spain 34.6
7.  China 18.6
8.  Netherlands 16.8
9.   Switzerland 16.2
10.  Japan 8.9
11.  Poland 7.9
12.  Singapore 7.8
13.  Turkey 7.5
14.  Hong Kong 6.4
15.  Ireland 6.3
16.  Russia 6.1
17.  Sweden 5.7
18.  South Korea 5.7
19.  Algeria 5.3
20.  Portugal 5.3
Import in Billion US-Dollar
Rank Country[73] Import
1.  Germany 99.8
2.  China 47.9
3.  Italy 43.7
4.  Belgium
5.  United States 37.9
6.  Spain 37.1
7.  Netherlands 26.4
8.  United Kingdom 22.4
9.   Switzerland 15.8
10.  Poland 10.4
11.  Japan 10.1
12.  Ireland 7.6
13.  Czech Republic 7.6
14.  Turkey 7.5
15.  Norway 6.4
16.  Portugal 6.3
17.  Sweden 6.0
18.  Austria 5.6
19.  India 5.1
20.  Vietnam 5.0
Total Trade in Billion US-Dollar
Rank Country[73] Total Trade
1.  Germany 169.9
2.  Italy 79.0
3.  United States 78.3
4.  Belgium
5.  Spain 71.7
6.  China 66.5
7.  United Kingdom 57.7
8.  Netherlands 43.2
9.   Switzerland 32.0
10.  Japan 19.0

Régions economy[edit]

Nominal GDP per capita, 2015 Eurostat

The economic disparity between French regions is not as high as that in other European countries such as the UK, Italy or Germany, and higher than in countries like Sweden or Denmark, or even Spain. However, Europe's wealthiest and second largest regional economy, Ile-de-France (the region surrounding Paris), has long profited from the capital city's economic hegemony.

The most important régions are Île-de-France (world's 4th and Europe 2nd wealthiest and largest regional economy), Rhône-Alpes (Europe's 5th largest regional economy thanks to its services, high-technologies, chemical industries, wines, tourism), Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (services, industry, tourism and wines), Nord-Pas-de-Calais (European transport hub, services, industries) and Pays de la Loire (green technologies, tourism). Regions like Alsace, which has a rich past in industry (machine tool) and currently stands as a high income service-specialized region, are very wealthy without ranking very high in absolute terms.

The rural areas are mainly in Auvergne, Limousin, and Centre-Val de Loire, and wine production accounts for a significant proportion of the economy in Aquitaine (Bordeaux (or claret)), Burgundy, and champagne produced in Champagne-Ardennes.

The Bordeaux wine region is world-famous for its high-end wines.
The Château de Chambord is one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.
Rank Region GDP
(in million euros, 2009)
GDP per capita
(euros, 2009)
(in million US Dollars, 2009)
GDP per capita
(US Dollars, 2009)
1 Île-de-France 552,052 51,101 769,705 69,973
2 Rhône-Alpes 181,810 29,420 253,491 41,019
3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 138,002 27,855 192,411 38,837
4 Nord-Pas de Calais 96,839 24,025 135,019 33,497
5 Pays de la Loire 94,032 26,481 131,105 36,921
6 Aquitaine 85,693 26,710 119,478 37,241
7 Brittany 81,632 25,739 113,816 35,887
8 Midi-Pyrénées 76,522 26,628 106,692 37,126
9 Centre-Val de Loire 65,173 25,571 90,868 35,653
10 Languedoc-Roussillon 60,523 22,984 84,385 32,046
11 Lorraine 55,396 23,653 77,237 32,978
12 Alsace 50,701 27,322 70,690 38,094
13 Upper Normandy 48,555 26,599 67,698 37,086
14 Picardy 43,725 22,894 60,964 31,920
15 Poitou-Charentes 42,379 24,046 59,087 33,526
16 Burgundy 41,805 25,516 58,287 35,576
17 Champagne-Ardenne 35,779 26,768 49,885 37,322
18 Lower Normandy 34,869 23,737 48,617 33,096
19 Auvergne 33,174 24,680 46,253 34,410
20 Franche-Comté 28,083 24,042 39,155 33,521
21 Limousin 17,509 23,637 24,412 32,956
22 Corsica 7,279 23,800 10,149 33,183

Source : INSEE. Source :

Departments economy and cities[edit]

Departmental income inequalities[edit]

Paris is France's largest urban economy (and the world's third)

In terms of income, important inequalities can be observed among the French départements.

According to the 2008 statistics of the INSEE, the Yvelines is the highest income department of the country with an average income of €4,750 per month. Hauts-de-Seine comes second, Essonne third, Paris fourth, Seine-et Marne fifth. Île-de-France is the wealthiest region in the country with an average income of €4,228 per month (and is also the wealthiest region in Europe) compared to €3,081 at the national level. Alsace comes second, Rhône-Alpes third, Picardy fourth, and Upper Normandy fifth.

The poorest parts of France are the French overseas departments, French Guiana being the poorest department with an average household income of €1,826. In Metropolitan France it is Creuse in the Limousin region which comes bottom of the list with an average household income of €1,849 per month.[74]

Urban income inequalities[edit]

Huge inequalities can also be found among cities. In the Paris metropolitan area, significant differences exist between the higher standard of living of Paris Ouest and lower standard of living in areas in the northern banlieues of Paris such as Seine-Saint-Denis.

For cities of over 50,000 inhabitants, Neuilly-sur-Seine, a western suburb of Paris, is the wealthiest city in France with an average household income of €5,939, and 35% earning more than €8,000 per month.[75] But within Paris, four arrondissements surpass wealthy Neuilly-sur-Seine in household income: the 6th, the 7th, the 8th and the 16th; the 8th "arrondissement" being the wealthiest district in France (the other three following it closely as 2nd, 3rd and 4th wealthiest ones).



In 2010, the French had an estimated wealth of US$14.0 trillion for a population of 63 million.[76]

  • In terms of aggregate wealth, the French are the wealthiest Europeans, accounting for more than a quarter of wealthiest European households.[77] Globally, the French nation ranks fourth-wealthiest.[78][79]
  • In 2010, wealth per French adult was a little higher than $290,000, down from a pre-crisis high of $300,000 in 2007. According to this ratio, French are the wealthiest in Europe. The tax on wealth is paid by 1.1M of people in France, the payment of this tax starts when a €1.3M of assets is reached (there is a discount on the principal residence value).
  • Almost every French household has at least $1,000 in assets.[80] Proportionally, there are twice as many French with assets of over $10,000 and four times as many French with assets of over $100,000 than the world average.[81]
  • The French are also among the least indebted populations in the developed world with personal debt accounting for "little more than 10% of household assets".[82]


France has the third highest number of millionaires in Europe as of 2017. There were 1.617 million millionaire households (measured in terms of US dollars) living in France in 2017, behind the UK (2.225M) and Germany (1.637).[83]

The wealthiest man in France is the LVMH CEO and owner Bernard Arnault.

See also[edit]


Notes and references[edit]

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  2. ^ "World Bank Country and Lending Groups". World Bank. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Population on 1 January". Eurostat. Retrieved 13 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "World Economic Outlook Database, October 2019". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e "World Economic Outlook Database, April 2020". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The World Factbook". Central Intelligence Agency. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  7. ^ "People at risk of poverty or social exclusion". Eurostat. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  8. ^ "Gini coefficient of equivalised disposable income - EU-SILC survey". Eurostat. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  9. ^ "Human Development Index (HDI)". HDRO (Human Development Report Office) United Nations Development Programme. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Inequality-adjusted HDI (IHDI)". UNDP. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Labor force, total - France". World Bank. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  12. ^ "Employment rate by sex, age group 20-64". Eurostat. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Unemployment by sex and age - monthly average". Eurostat. Retrieved 2 July 2020.
  14. ^ "The unemployment rate fell from 8.5 % to 8.1 % in Q4 2019". Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Youth unemployment rate". OECD. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
  16. ^ "Average wage in France: net, gross, by sex, by CSP". Retrieved 18 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Salary after Tax Calculator - France (FR)". Retrieved 27 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Ease of Doing Business in France". Retrieved 21 November 2017.
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  21. ^ "Development aid rises again in 2016 but flows to poorest countries dip". OECD. 11 April 2017. Retrieved 25 September 2017.
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  38. ^ Bloomberg (2012) German government bond interest rates (graph)
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  47. ^ "CO2 emissions per capita in 2006". Environmental Indicators: Greenhouse Gas Emissions. United Nations. August 2009.
  48. ^ Source: L’Electricité en France en 2006 : une analyse statistique
  49. ^ Ilbery, Brian (1986). Western Europe. New York, United States: Oxford University Press, New York. pp. Pg. 41-42. ISBN 0-19-823278-0.
  50. ^ (in French) L'Agriculture en chiffres
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  53. ^ SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, data 2000–10. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  54. ^ Arms trade: One chart that shows the biggest weapons exporters of the last five years, The Independent
  55. ^ France doubles arms sales in 2015,
  56. ^ Arms sales becoming France’s new El Dorado, but at what cost?, France24
  57. ^ If the US Won't Sell You Weapons, France Might Still Hook You Up, Vice News
  58. ^ Les grands secteurs économiques Ministère des Affaires étrangères Retrieved 4 November 2007
  59. ^ "International Comparisons of GDP per Capita, and per Hour, 1960–2011" (PDF). Bureau of Labor Statistics. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  60. ^ Paul Krugman (28 January 2011). "GDP Per Capita, Here and There". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  61. ^
  62. ^ "More than 1 million protest French jobs law". CNN. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  63. ^ "Q&A: French labour law row". BBC News. 11 April 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  64. ^ "Le Revenu de Solidarité active". Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  65. ^ Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2012). "OECD Employment Outlook 2012 – Statistical Annex" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2013.
  66. ^ Philippe Aghion; Cette, Gilbert; Cohen, Élie; Pisani-Ferry, Jean (2007). Les leviers de la croissance française (PDF) (in French). Paris: Conseil d'analyse économique. p. 55. ISBN 978-2-11-006946-7. Retrieved 1 September 2008.
  67. ^ "Young, Educated and Jobless in France".
  68. ^ Steven Erlanger; Maïa de la Baume; Stefania Rousselle (6 December 2012). "Young, Educated and Jobless in France". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
  69. ^ "Harmonised unemployment rate by gender – total – % (SA)". 11 March 2011. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
  70. ^ Lucy Mangan (9 April 2014). "When the French clock off at 6 pm, they really mean it". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 April 2014.
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  73. ^ a b c (1) The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC)
  74. ^ [1] Archived 4 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  75. ^ "Salaire moyen Neuilly-sur-Seine – 92200 (60501 habitants) : 4649 euros / mois par ménage – Tout savoir sur revenu moyen, salaire net, salaire brut et retraite par ville de France". Retrieved 27 November 2012.
  76. ^ Credit Suisse 2010's Global Wealth Report, p. 32.
  77. ^ "Europe as a whole accounts for 35% of the individuals in the global top 1% (of wealthiest households), but France itself contributes a quarter of the European contingent." 2010's Global Wealth Report
  78. ^ Rankings: 1st: United States with $54.6 trillion for 318 million inhabitants; 2nd: Japan with $21 trillion for 127 million inhabitants; 3rd: China with $16.5 trillion for 1.331 billion inhabitants; 4th: France with $14.0 trillion for 63 million inhabitants.
  79. ^ " Although it has just 1.1% of the world’s adults, France ranks fourth among nations in aggregate household wealth – behind China and just ahead of Germany". 2010's Global Wealth Report. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  80. ^ 2010's Global Wealth Report, p. 32: "Very few households in France are recorded as having less than US$1000 per adult".
  81. ^ 2010's Global Wealth Report, p. 32: "The proportion with assets over $10,000 is double the world average, and the proportion with more than $100,000 is four times the global figure".
  82. ^ 2010's Global Wealth Report.
  83. ^ "The 18 countries with the most millionaires". Business Insider. Retrieved 19 December 2017.

External links[edit]