A very French depression
Demographer Hervé Le Bras wonders: how can the French, in the same year, declare themselves almost entirely (94%) happy with their fate, according to a Eurobarometer survey of March 2018, and, six months later, applaud France for “yellow vests”, which occupy roundabouts and ransack the Champs-Elysées, throwing their suffering in the face of the wealthy Parisians? It was to answer this question that the lover of maps and statistics conducted a detailed investigation into what looks like a great collective nervous breakdown. Believing neither in the media, nor in the elites, nor in the politicians or the unions, the French trust more than the police, the army and the public administration. Where does this unstoppable pessimism come from?
Desertification, injustice …
One by one, the scientist reviews the usual suspects. First, inequality and poverty. But inequality is among the lowest in Europe and, for half a century, poverty has declined significantly. In 1970, 13% of people had an income 50% below the median wage. They are 8% today. Maybe, then, is it health? But life expectancy and the proportion of doctors are rather favorable in France, compared to our neighbors. Same comparative observation on family, housing or security. There are not many more homicides or fewer judges or police than elsewhere on the Old Continent (except the Eastern countries).
The demographer also evacuates unemployment and immigration, which was not discussed during the episode of “yellow vests”. Three guilty parties remain. First, the desertification of a certain France, one that is depopulating, from the Ardennes to the Massif Central. But also, and above all, a major sociological change, with the explosion of the number of graduates which exceeds the corresponding job offer and naturally leads to social immobility and frustration. And, finally, the glaring injustice of gender inequalities in the workplace. Result, French people who feel in failure without objective reason. Because they feel that the future no longer belongs to them.
Feel bad in a France that is doing well, by Hervé Le Bras (L’Aube, 168 pages, 17.90 euros).
When China colonizes the world
From a distance, the card that introduces the book looks like these sets of points to connect that flourish in children's notebooks. Drawing a line between all these destinations draws a tight canvas, covering the surface of the planisphere, with, in its center, Beijing. “It’s noon in Beijing”, like in all of China, and it’s now the world’s tempo.