This page is one of the annex pages of www.understandfrance.org, the foremost site on Franco-American intercultural differences. It contains documents, facts and figures illustrating the content of some of its pages.

Facts & figures

This page contains Facts and Figures about France and the French. Some are significant, other less so....

(credit)

The political and administrative organization of France
 Level  Name and approx. US equivalent  Number  Head  Competences  Elected by citizens  Levy specific taxes?
 1  "commune" (= city?)  >36,000  "maire" (= mayor?)  Everything close to citizens : urban and local infrastructures, building permits, primary schools, the "commune" owns churches and primary schools, ....  Yes ("élections municipales" every 6 years)  Yes
 2  "intercommunalité"  >10,000  "président"  Called "communautés de communes" or "communautés d'agglomération" or "syndicat intercommmunal" = an association of "communes" to operate a common specific utility or infrastructure (sanitation, urban transport,...) or to represent a group of "communes" on a large scope of competences (typically for big cities with their suburbs)

 No

(elected by "communes")

 Yes
 3  "pays"  around 800  "président du pays de..."  Optional : a group of "communes" which share a common image and common development projects, for instance

 No

(elected by "communes")

 No
 4  "département" (= (roughly) US county?)  100  "président du Conseil Général"  Local roads, junior high schools, social policy (for instance RMI), etc...  Yes ("élections cantonales" evey 6 years)  Yes
 5  "region" (= (roughly) US state?)  22  "président du Conseil Régional"  Economic policy, regional trains, high schools, regional parks, etc...  Yes ("élections régionales" every 5 years)  Yes
 6  nation  1 (thankfully)    "président de la République"  5 years mandate  
 6  nation  approx. 600 "circonscriptions"    "députés" (=representatives?) ; the "Chambre des Députés" is the French Parliament  5 years mandate  Yes !
 6  nation  approx. 300 elected at "départemental" level  the president of the senate replaces the president of France in case of death  "sénateurs" (=senators? with less power than their US counterparts) ; the "Sénat" must approve laws voted by "députés" but it cannot veto them  elected for 6 years by elected officials of levels 1, 4 and 5  No
 7  Europe  around 80 French members    "députés européens" ; see page on European institution  5 years mandate  No

More about the geography of France

Miscellaneous economic figures...

  • What are taxes used for ?
    Desmurget compares the situation of two women with two children, Molly in Atlanta, Caroline in Lyon. They make the same salary $3,000 a month. Here goes the comparison :

Source : Michel DESMURGET, Mad in USA : les ravages du " modèle américain ", Milo, 2008

   Molly (in the USA)  Caroline (in France)
 Salary/month  $3,000  $3,000
 What's left after taxes  $1,830 $1,030
 + from State for 2 children (Allocation Familiales)  0  $200°
 + help for rent (allocation logement)  0  $200°
 + help for using public transport  0  $30
 Health insurance (more about health in France)  $550  0
 Public school  0  0
 Children kept at school after class till 6 pm (more about education in France)  $650  0

 What's left every month

 $630  $1,460
 Salary when sick  0  full salary
 Pension at age 65  $1,160  $1,825
° estimate
  • Prices : Comparatives figures on the cost of living in majors world cities for equivalent products (source : International Mercer Consulting 2003)
 

 Prices in Euro

Oct.2003 and rank

 Monthy Rent 3 rooms apt

(i.e.one bedroom)

 Haircut +brushing  Mens's suits  Concert (two seats)  A caddie of 39 food products (source UBS)  Average hotel room
 Paris (#23)

 2 300

 68

 590

 110

 422

 197
 London (#7)

 2 907

 65

 400

 94

 360

 218
 Berlin (#58)

 1 700

 45

 415

 126

335 

 137
 Roma (#41)

 1 650

 47

 420

 50
 

 239
 New York (#10)

 3 623

 59

 633

 136
 

 212
 Tokyo (#1)

 5 832

 58

 678

 148
 

 238

  •  Social security : Health Expenses by source of financing in 2000 (Source : OECD). See more on social security.

    Paid by...   USA  France  Germany  Italy  Spain  Netherl.

     patient

     15  10  11  20 24   9

     private insurance

     41  14  14  5  5  28

     public funds

     44  76  75  75  71  63

    Most frequent names of streets in France (2008) :

    1.Charles de Gaulle

    2. Louis Pasteur

    3. Victor Hugo

    4. Jean Jaurès

    5.Leon Gambetta

    6. Jules Ferry

    7.Lamartine

    8. Georges Clemenceau

    9. Emile Zola

    10. Voltaire

    11. Aristide Briand

    12. Carnot

    13. Anatole France

    14. Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    15. Roger Salengro

    16. Jean Monnet

    17. Leon Blum

    18. Mendès-France

    19. François Mitterand

    20. Adolphe Thiers

  • Smoking : average number of cigarettes/year (source : WHO, quoted by l'Express 14/3/2005)
 Country  Cigarettes/year  Restricted for advertising  Restricted in public places  Country  Cigarettes/year  Restricted for advertising  Restricted in public places
 Greece

 2 541

 N

 partly
 Germany

 1 553

 N

 partly
 Spain

 2 464

 N

 N
 Belgium

 1 533

 Y

 partly
 Netherlands

 2 402

 Y

 N
 Denmark

 1 525

 Y

 N
 Hungary

 2 151

 Y

 partly
 Czech Rep.

 1 491

 partly

 partly
 Poland

 1 934

 partly

 partly
 France

 1 303

 Y

 totally (as of Jan 1, 2008)
 Ireland

 1 815

 Y

 Y
 UK

 1 108

 Y

 N
 Italy

 1 741

 partly

 Y
 Finland

 920

 partly

 partly
 Portugal

 1 632

 partly

 N
 Sweden

 902

 Y

 partly
 To related pages : more facts & figure, figures on Europe, etc...

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Harriet Welty Rochefort writes articles and books about France and the French. Order her books :

  • "French Toast, An American in Paris Celebrates The Maddening Mysteries of the French", St.Martin's Press, New York, 1999
  • "French Fried, The Culinary Capers of An American in Paris", St.Martin's Press, New York, 2001

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