While the euro crisis has receded, France still struggles with high unemployment, low growth and rising debt. Recent austerity measures aimed at dealing with these problems have aroused controversy, but it is too early to assess their impact. Despite these challenges, France remains fifth in the world in terms of aggregate household wealth and eighth according to wealth per adult.
Wealth per adult grew rapidly in France from the year 2000 to 2007, almost trebling in USD terms. It then decreased by 9% in 2008. Recovery has proved slow, although the pre-crisis peak was almost regained this year. Much of the pre-2007 rise was due to the appreciation of the euro against the US dollar. However, France also experienced a rapid rise in house prices, which is reflected in the fact that real property currently accounts for 62% of household assets. Personal debts are just 12% of household assets.
The total wealth of French households is very sizeable. Although just 1.1% of the world’s adults live in France, in terms of aggregate household wealth in current USD, it ranks fourth among nations – behind China and just ahead of the United Kingdom. Europe as a whole has 34% of the individuals in the global top 1% by wealth, but France on its own makes up one fifth of the European contribution. This reflects the high average net worth of French households, rather than unusually high wealth inequality.
Relatively few adults in France are estimated to have wealth less than USD 10,000. The proportion with assets over USD 100,000 is over six times the global figure. There are more millionaires in France than in any other European country. But above USD 50 million or above USD 100 million, residents of Germany and the UK outnumber the French.