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France: Promoting economic opportunities and well-being in poor neighbourhoods


  • Nicola Brandt


Thanks to a highly developed welfare state, poverty is moderate on average in France, but – as in other countries – highly concentrated in some neighbourhoods. Their residents face many social disadvantages, including high unemployment and inactivity, schools with many struggling children, often run-down housing and urban infrastructure, and a lack of local enterprises, services and amenities. The government focuses a wide array of policies on these areas to promote better schooling outcomes, employment and local economic activity. Urban renewal and public housing policies aim explicitly at promoting social mixing, often presented as an anti-ghetto policy. Evidence suggests that targeted investment in transport and housing infrastructure as well as education and training could go a long way to improving economic opportunities and well-being in poor areas. In contrast, special economic zones with tax breaks to attract business to these areas have a mixed track record at best. Greater social mixing is difficult to engineer, and it is far from clear if this by itself would improve the lives of the poor. There is a need to better link urban, social and judicial policies favouring alternative sentencing and support for offenders to integrate into society to avoid vicious circles of social disadvantage and crime.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicola Brandt, 2018. "France: Promoting economic opportunities and well-being in poor neighbourhoods," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 1454, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:ecoaaa:1454-en

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    discrimination on the labour market; education and training policies; France; infrastructure investment; poor neighbourhoods; poverty; social housing; spatial mismatch; urban renovation;

    JEL classification:

    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • J78 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Public Policy (including comparable worth)
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets
    • R40 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Transportation Economics - - - General

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