The French have a stereotypical image of being intensely and preoccupied with enjoying the joys of life. However, recent polls in the country have revealed that the people that are known for their passionate pursuit of joie de vivre have become more gloomy compared to their European neighbors thanks to the economic hardships that the region is facing.
It remains interesting to note that the economic slowdown hasn’t in fact hit France full on just yet which is begging everyone to ask why the French are feeling the economic pain before the toll of the recession begins to take effect in the country.
In 1981, Francois Mitterrand the famed socialist came into power in France and the era of great spending on the public began. Since then, France has been offering the best state benefits and pensions in Europe with a lot of money being spent on culture, transport and hospitals. Their health service is one of the finest in the world, you find excellent public transport throughout France, the cities are still wonderful and the restaurants are to die for. However, excellent health benefits does, big pensions, early retirement and a short working week do not make good bedfellows for a weakening economy.
The Greeks, the Spanish, the Germans and the British have already made incredible cuts and redefined welfare, education and national life to readjust the economy to weather the economic storm. The French government has announced that it would create thousands of state-funded youth jobs to cut unemployment though many remember the government promising something similar roughly 15 years ago as well.
Throughout the country, tourism-related businesses are doing quite well while many others know that they are about to go under. However, sociologist Claudia Senik who wrote the book “The French Unhappiness Puzzle” claims that the national gloom is more a result of the French education system rather than a result of what’s happening on ground right now.
By focusing too much on academic results, the French education system is churning out unhappy youth that are met with shortage of jobs when they pass out of school. This only heightens their discontent. What this means is that the very image of a happy life that France idolizes has become difficult for the French to achieve and the fear of the economic slowdown affecting their chances of achieving that ideal only compounds their misery.