Louis XIV, Coronavirus & ECB (4/7): Centralisation and Socio-Economic Concentration & Vulnerability

From a social point of view, the concentration of poor households, first in the center of Paris and then in the low-income housing districts of the suburbs, has often been the source of socio-political turmoil, whether during revolts like those in 1660 and 1661 or during revolutions as the 1789 or 1848 ones – bad harvests also played a role in social instability[1]LEROY-LADURIE Emmanuel, Histoire humaine et comparée du climat – Disettes et révolutions 1740-1860 (Human and Comparative History of the Climate – Scarcity and Revolutions 1740-1860), Paris, Fayard, 2006, p143-147 – or during the 2005 French (peri)urban riots which started in Clichy-sous-Bois. The explosion of these Ile-de-France revolts spread across all of France’s agglomerations. But in 2015, 45% of the [Clichy] population [still] lived below the poverty line and more than one in three young people [pointed] to unemployment[2]CARMARANS Christophe, Il y a dix ans, les banlieues s’embrasaient dans toute la France (Ten years ago, the suburbs were ablaze across whole France), on October 27th, 2015, [Consulted on April 4th 2020], available at: http://www.rfi.fr/fr/france/20151026-emeutes-clichy-banlieues-zyed-bouna-2005-chirac-sarkozy-police-bondy-93.

If the density of working-class neighborhoods has gone from several tens of thousands of inhabitants to less than ten thousand per km² via its transfer to the urban peripheries, we find the same problem of the concentration of socio-economic difficulties, despite the promising beginnings of the French Social Housing Projects: in the 1960s, the percentage of executives in low-cost housing was higher than the national average and the medium household income was 40% higher than the same average. However, because these families were more numerous (should this be seen as an influence of good incomes as well as that of the size of low-cost dwellings, larger than the others?), the revenue per person was reduced to 7% above the normal French one[3]MERLIN Pierre, Les grands ensembles (The Social Housing Projects), Paris, La Documentation française, 2010, p 69. Then, gradually, this gap narrowed with the arrival of immigrants and poor working families. The curve finally reversed with the appearance of mass unemployment, consequence of the 1974 and 1979 crises[4]de FOUCAULD Bertrand, Développement durable et gouvernance du logement social (Sustainable development and governance of social housing), doctoral thesis: Spaces, societies and planning: Paris: University Paris IV – Sorbonne, Paris, 2013, p32. As a reminder, the sharp rise in oil prices in 1974 was not really the cause of the economic crisis but rather one of its manifestations. The likely reason for these two economic crises in the 1970s was the decline in productive investment in the late 1960s.

Today, the socio-economic situation is closely linked to that of Corona. For example, in the towns of Aulnay-sous-Bois or Clichy-sous-Bois, in the Seine-Saint-Denis département [5]A département is grossly the equivalent of a British county., there is a renewed tension between gangs of young people, claiming their freedom to move within their own neighborhood, and the Police who must try to enforce containment while avoiding triggering a riot[6]VILLAMY Olivia, « Clichy-sous-Bois : tensions avec la police au 5e jour de confinement » (Clichy-sous-Bois: tensions with the police on the 5th day of confinement) in Le Parisien, March 22, 2020. [Consulted April 29th, 2020], available at: http://www.leparisien.fr/seine-saint-denis-93/clichy-sous-bois-tensions-avec-la-police-au-5e-jour-de-confinement-22-03-2020-8285241.php. See also: REVENU Nathalie, « Coronavirus en Seine-Saint-Denis : un nombre record d’amendes, police et justice durcissent le ton » (Coronavirus in Seine-Saint-Denis: a record number of fines, police and justice harden the tone) in Le Parisien, March 22nd, 2020. [Consulted April 29th, 2020], available at: http://www.leparisien.fr/seine-saint-denis-93/coronavirus-en-seine-saint-denis-un-nombre-record-d-amendes-police-et-justice-durcissent-le-ton-19-03-2020-8284008.php. The number of people per household is higher than the French average, which means that the Sequano-Dionysian population is young: the conjunctural fertility indicator[7]The conjunctural fertility indicator, or sum of reduced births, measures the number of children a woman would have throughout her life, if the fertility rates observed in a given year at each age remained unchanged. INSEE, Définition – Indicateur conjoncturel de fécondité, ou somme des naissances réduites (Definition – Conjunctural Fertility Indicator, or Sum of Reduced Births), October 13th, 2016. [Consulted April 29th, 2020], available at: https://www.insee.fr/fr/metadonnees/definition/c1963 in Seine-Saint-Denis, in 2014, was 2.50 for an average of 2.04 in Ile-de-France and 1.98 in metropolitan France[8]BOUSSAD Nasia, COULEAUD Nathalie, Démographie de l’Ile-de- France in 2015 (Ile-de-France Region Demography in 2015), January 17th, 2017, INSEE. [Consulted April 29th, 2020], available at: https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/2555753#titre-bloc-5. Therefore, confinement in housing, within Social Housing Projects plagued by strong socio-economic difficulties, is even more felt, despite the size of the rather spacious apartments compared to those located in bourgeois city centers and generally belonging to the market sector. In addition, in this départment, reside many workers (also called key-workers by local authorities) whose physical presence at their workplace is essential for the daily operation of the Ile-de-France Region, such as factory workers, delivery drivers and supermarkets employees. These economic actors are therefore forced to leave their home, which contributes to increasing the risk of spreading the virus. One more reason to help them assuming their duty in an as safe as possible professional context. It is also up to them to carry masks and gloves while in contact either with the products, to be manufactured or delivered, or with the clientele.

Additional bibliography[9]BÉLY Lucien, La France moderne. 1498-1789 (Modern France. 1498-1789), Paris, PUF, 2003 [10]GARNOT Benoît, La population française : aux XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (The French Population: In The XVIth, XVIIth et XVIIIth Century), Paris, Ophrys, 2005. [11]LAROUSSE, Guerre de la succession d’Espagne (War Of The Spanish Succession), [Consulted on the 8th April 2020], available at : https://www.larousse.fr/encyclopedie/divers/guerre_de_la_Succession_dEspagne/145407 [12]HERODOTE, 1702-1713 – Guerre de la Succession d’Espagne (War Of The Spanish Succession), le 18/12/04. [Consulted on the 8th April 2020], available at: https://www.herodote.net/Guerre_de_la_Succession_d_Espagne-synthese-84.php [13]REINHARD Marcel, “La population française au XVIIe siècle”  (The French Population In The XVIIth Century) in Population, 1958, p 619-630, [Consulted on the 8th April 2020], available at : https://www.persee.fr/doc/pop_0032-4663_1958_num_13_4_5734 [14]CARMONA Michel, Haussman, Paris, Fayard, 2000, 647p


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