How the very high incomes develop in France

- Observatoire des Inégalités, "Comment évoluent les très hauts revenus en France", published in french on 17 November 2011, translation by Rita Stadtfeld.

The evolution of high incomes is little known. So far, the INSEE (French National Institute for Statistics) has only released data for the interval from 2004 to 2008. Some more has been made known thanks to the works of the economists Thomas Piketty and Camille Landais, but much is still to be done on the assessment of the top level of allocations.

Evolution in the short and medium term

- Evolution of living standards

Between 2004 and 2008, the 0.01 % richest persons have seen their annual income (including salary and capital income) increase by 33%, thus 180 000 Euros (before taxation), passing from 551 900 to 732 300 Euros : a raise equaling more than 14 years of SMIC (French minimum wage). However this represents only the border (minimum wage) of these 0.01 % and not the average income of this section, which is even higher… It is also noteworthy that this is data before taxation.

The richest 1 % have gained a lot less, but their additional 7 700 Euros (+ 16 %) correspond nevertheless to the value of seven months’ work of an employee on the minimum wage. At the same time, half of the population has gained an additional 500 Euros during this four-year period (+5 %).

Since 2008 – the financial crisis having resulted in significant decrease of capital incomes – it is likely that the evolution of high incomes will be less profitable, although they will still be way superior to the mere mortals. However this cannot yet be confirmed.

- Evolution of salaries

Between 1996 and 2008 the proportion of the wage share of the 1 % of full-time workers earning the highest wages in the private sector has increased from 5.5 % to 6.9 % (see graph below). The average salaries of these employees have augmented a lot faster than those of other workers.

According to INSEE, the 132 000 persons representing these 1 % best-paid full-time employees have earned an average gross income of 221 400 Euros in 2008. The part of the 10 % best-paid gained a salary of 73 800 Euros (three times less), whereas the average salary of all employees in the private sector added up to 33 010 Euros (seven times less).

Long-term evolution

As shows the data published by the researcher Camille Landais, the proportion of the national income held by the 1 % of the richest is clearly increasing since the beginning of the 1980s. It has passed from 7 % in 1981 to 9 % in 2006, with a distinct drop between 1988 and 1996.

Photo / © Anton Balazh -

Photo : Dinkum (Wikimedia Commons)


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14 mars 2012

Thèmes : • Salaires • Patrimoine


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