This page is one of the annex pages of, 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....

 France compared to European countries   Image of France and the French
  • Situation of French retirees as compared to other European countries.

    • Age 60 to 62, according to year of birth, first after Sweden), Sweden 61, Greece 62 to 67 (for 40 years of cotisatioon), Finland 63+3mths,  UK, Switzerland  64 (women) or 65 (men), Denmark, Luxembourg, Belgium  65, Spain between 65 and 65+6mths, Portugal 66+4mths, Germany 65+7mths, Ireland, Netherlands, 66, Italy 66+7mths

    • Income as a % of the average income of active population : 103,4 first in Europe, Luxembourg 100,5, Spain 98,8, 97, Portugal 95, Ireland 89,2, Germany 88,5, Sweden 85,9, Finland 85,7, Netherlands 83,4, UK 82,6, Switzerland 82,4, Belgium 80,3, Denmark 79,5
    • Average pension : 1,322€ (women) or 1,760€ (men)
    • Retirement with full pension (under condition of the number of years of cotisation) : age 62, Full pension (without these conditions) : 67, mandatory retirement : 70
      (Source : DREES, CLEISS, OECD)
  • Consumption of alcohol in European countries : a large comparative study published in The Lancet in 2018 gives the following results :
    • Largest consumption (in average number of glasses of wine or equivalent-wine per day all ages included) for men : Rumania 8.2, Portugal 7.2, Luxembourg 7.2, Lithuania 7, Ukraine 7, Bosnia 6.5, Belarus 6, Estonia 6, Spain 5.8, Hungaria 5,3, ....., France 4.9
    • For women : Ukraine 4.2, Andorra 3.4, Luxembourg 3.4, Belarus 3.4, Sweden 3.1, Denmark 3.1, Ireland 3.1, UK 3, Germany 2.9, Switzerland 2.8, ....., France 2.6

  • The PISA comparative studies (OECD) compare every three years the level of students in 72 countries on more than half a million students. The ranking of France is just average and, for all criteria, France (like the USA and UK) reaches only the average level of OECD countries. In the 2016 study :
    • reading : # 19
    • mathematics : # 26
    • science : # 26
    The reason ? Inequality : France is the country where the difference between good students (educated parents, good schools in big cities) and mediocre students (parents who hardly speak Frenc, living in poor suburbs) is the largest. This is certainly one of the most important challenges of France in the field of Education. More on the study.
  • Compared Competitiveness
    According to the World Economic Forum, compared competitiveness (2005 figures) of countries leads to the following ranking :

  •  Finland # 1
    USA # 2
    Sweden # 3


     Japan # 12
    UK # 13
    Germany # 15


    France # 30 (even worse than in 2004 : # 27)
    Belgium : # 31


    Italy : # 47
    China : # 49

    The criteria include economic policies, regulatory environment, opinion of business leaders etc. The mediocre ranking of France has many good reasons and is largely deserved. One can only observe (once again) that criteria are not neutral : public expenses are taken into account only negatively, regardless of their social and economic profitability : they are considered a waste of resources. France is therefore penalized when investing in its fast trains (TGV) or nuclear power plants and would improve its ranking if not developping such public investments.

More on rankings and read my editorial about it..

  • % Compared satisfaction of the national health systems (Source : Europ Assistance Poll, Le Figaro Sept.28, 2010)
  • Q Fr. US UK Swed Italy Austria Poland Germ
    A1 15% 23% 34% 29% 10% 52% 3% 11%
    A2 46% 21% 36% 40% 30% 34% 17% 46%
    A3 32% 26% 20% 21% 36% 12% 44% 31%
    A4 6% 27% 10% 8% 24% 2% 36% 12%
    B 67% 46% 28% 50%       38%
    C 35% 70% 84%          

Question A : How do you see the organization of the health system in your country ? A1 = excellent or very good,A2 = good, A3= bad ,A4 = very bad
Question B : Do you think your country is where you can get the best treatment ?
Question C : Do you fear medical errors ?

  • Compared attractivity : Paris and other European cities. Number of new implantation of international headquarters in 2005 (Source : Ernst & Young Investment European Monitor 2006, in Le Parisien June 19, 2006) :

     Paris  194  Madrid  47  Amsterdam  30
     London  177  Frankfurt  40  Düsseldorf  24
     Barcelona  64  Budapest  34  Milano  17
     Moskow  57  Bruxelles  31  Genève  16
     Stoscholm  55  Dublin  30  Berlin  13

Compared attitude toward America, European unity and Globalization : T.R.Reid has elaborated three ratios for the 25 countries.

Back to "Europe"



  • Visions of the French : The 27 countries of Europe are very different, have different languages and a very different history and culture. Not surprisingly, they have a very stereotyped vision of one another. Recent polls illustrate how limited their mutual knowledge is and the kind of cliché that comes to their mind when asked the question " How would you describe the people of such and such European country ? ". Here are the results as summarized by Clodong and Lamarque :
  How do other countries see the French :   How do the French see the other European people :
  Dutch  restless, talkative, not serious    ecologists, laxist, open, progressive, libertarian, tall
 English  chauvinistic, intransigent, cared for by the state, no sense of humour    insular, conceited, monarchist, anti - European, snob, independent, conservative, pragmatic
 Germans  conceited, offhand, frivolous    rigorous, hard - workers, serious, disciplined, organized, legalist, formalist
 Greeks  not very smart    messy, lazy, indolent, nonchalent
 Italians  snobs, arrogant    glib talkers, pleasure seekers, friendly, family - oriented, bon vivant, womanizers, smooth -t alkers, machos, lady killers
 Portuguese  lesson givers, haughty    hard - workers, courageous, Catholic, family - oriented, short
  Spaniards  cold, distant, impolite, conceited    revellers, warm, traditional, modern, regionalist, noisy, religious, bon vivant
  Swedes  disobedient, immoral, disorganized, neocolonialists, dirty    blond, tall, clean, organized, cold, Scandinavian, Nordic, Viking, ecologists
 Austrians  The study does not give the vision of the French by the following people but only the vision the French have of them    rigorous, cold, nationalist, xenophobic, haughty, intolerant, clean
 Belgians      friendly, francophile, divided, pro - European, warm, French - fry eaters
 Cypriots      insular, rustic, divided
 Czechs      cultured, poor, pro - European, culturally rich
 Danish      cold, clean, blond, tall, artist, melancholic, hard - workers
 Estonians      poor, pro - European, invaded, occupied
 Finns      courageous, cold, rough, friendly, blond, tenacious, Nordic
 Hungarians      warm, sad, intelligent, gypsy
 Irish      reveller, courageous, traditionalist, warm, beer - drinkers
 Latvians      ? (no image)
 Lithuanians      pro - European, poor
 Luxemburgers      rich, friendly, pro - European, discreet, wheeler - dealers
 Maltese      warm, insular, organized, isolated
 Polish      hard - workers, Catholic, courageous, alcoholics, resistants
 Slovaks      open, poor, hard - workers
 Slovenians      slavic, family - oriented, poor

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

  • "Joie de Vivre", Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing like the French, St.Martin's Press, New York, 2012
  • "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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