France is Poorer than Most American States

Why are French Yellow Vest protestors still out in the streets of France protesting?

Ryan McMaken of the Mises Institute may have an explanation for this.

In a recently published article, McMaken highlights how France’s income falls below most of America’s poorest states, which could play a major factor in the protestor’s dismay with their government.

Generally, the typical government response would be to increase government spending.

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But as Ryan McMaken points out, France spends more than the rest of Europe when it comes to welfare programs.

According to a OECD report, France spends well over 31 percent of its GDP on “public social spending.” On the other hand, Germany and Norway spend 25 percent of their GDP on social spending. The U.S. also spends 18 percent of its GDP for welfare programs.

On the median income front, France doesn’t look so great either. For median disposable income, France is behind Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland. Canada, the U.S., and Australia beat France handily in these rankings.

When comparing France to individual U.S. states, the picture looks even bleaker. France’s disposable income ranks below every state in America except Louisiana.

One point that McMaken raises is that increased social spending “is not the key to reducing poverty, raising median incomes, or generally improving the lives of residents.” Instead, he argues that “rising social spending may be more the result of stagnation in an economy since social programs are likely to become more widespread as more residents experience poverty, unemployment, or unmanageably high living costs.”

McMaken proposes that France make its economy more competitive by “deregulating industries, embracing global free trade, breaking the power of the unions, and ending subsidies, price controls, and other measures designed to benefit powerful interest groups at the expense of everyone else.”

All in all, France will need to consider taking a market-based approach to getting itself out of its current economic quagmire. That means making a drastic reduction in the state’s prescence in the economy. If it doesn’t do so, it should expect the Yellow Vest protests to rage on.