What if, instead of considering these districts as doomed to a disposition of welfare-reception, whereby the only condition for improvement is to receive more of it, the QPVs and their inhabitants were perceived as active players in the French economy, and as such, were better integrated into it?
Doing Away with Misconceptions
Discourse and opinion play as much of an important role in how urban policy is drafted as anything else. France’s poor neighborhoods are cloaked in layers of preconceived notions that are either incorrect, or long-obsolete.
During a two-year long quest to collect information and data about the socio-economic dispositions of France’s poor districts, which resulted in the compilation of 300 statistical tables, 40 maps and 35 interviews, it became clear there is much to unpack and deconstruct about the assumptions around QPVs. A muddled understanding of a country’s less advantaged regions, plays in the disfavor of millions of citizens, renders public policy ineffective, and fosters discrimination. If there was ever a time to not take discrimination lightly in France, this is certainly it.
For the purpose of illustrating these claims, let’s take four common misconstrued ideas that we came across most frequently during our 2 years of research:
Idea 1: That inhabitants of poor neighborhoods live off of social benefits.
By comparing the composition of income at the national level and in QPVs, we found that the inhabitants of poor districts actually receive less social transfers (pensions and welfare) than others. In 2014, the median standard of living - or gross disposable income (GDI) per unit of consumption (UC) - was €20,400 in metropolitan France and approximately €13,200 in QPVs. The share of pensions and welfare together account for approximately 33% of income on average in France, which makes the estimated amount of social transfers about €6,800. In the QPVs, the share of pensions and welfare is proportionally higher than the national average (46% of income), but quantitatively lower, with only €6,100 per inhabitant.
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