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Poll confirms the French are pessimistic about the future

Wikimedia Commons/RFI
3 min

While it not may come as a surprise to many to hear the French are unhappy about something, an official poll released on Saturday by the French Institute of Public Opinion (Ifop) said 68 percent of the population are pessimistic when it comes to their future, despite the arrival of the new socialist government.


The latest figure is close to one of its highest levels of 70 percent back in 2005.

“It’s the first time so many are worried this early on during a president’s term: in August 2002 and August 2007, after the reelection of Jacques Chirac and Nicholas Sarkozy, 34 percent and 50 percent (respectively) of the French were said to be worried about themselves and their children” noted Ifop.


One group that remained happy about life since the last poll taken in January was among labourers. Their percentage increased by four points to 33 percent.


The poll was done between 30 and 31 August with 1004 participating to represent the French population aged 18 and above.

“I don’t know if this low is particular to France. I mean, there is a crisis and people know that the public debt program is going to be difficult to solve”, Claudia Senik, an economist at the University of Paris Sorbonne and the Paris School of Economics, told RFI.

“People’s mood is even correlated with the index of the stock market. So I’m not surprised that French happiness is down now, but the thing is the French happiness is much lower than one would expect given the standard of living, GDP per capita or even the human
development index”, said Senik.

“Even if you control for this, the French happiness is still lower than that of unemployed people in other countries”. Senik believes there is a cultural explanation for this intense pessimism among the French.

“There is something in the mentality of the French, something in a way that people are transforming the objective circumstances or events that they are facing that is not working, or less efficient. But when I say cultural, it doesn’t mean it’s not important. Because this
French unhappiness is also reflected in the index of depressiveness or mental disease. It’s really something real. It’s really about being unhappy.”

Breakdown of pessimistic groups in France

  • 58% - French Socialists
  • 74%- aged 65 and above
  • 70% - artists and business-owners
  • 72% - not working


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