French people are frightened that their welfare model may disappear.
For many years, the French have been hearing repeated warnings of the imminent collapse of a social model to which they are particularly attached. With the economic crisis, there is a growing concern that this social model could disappear.
They are among the Europeans who feel most exposed to life risks of all kinds. A majority of French people consider they are quite likely to have a road accident (65% versus 51% overall), be the victim of an attack or theft (54% versus 40% overall), of a bank hacking incident or Internet reputation attack (52% versus 37% overall), become unemployed (51%, same as overall percentage), or lose their assets (40% versus 38% overall).
At the same time, the French are more confident about the protection they currently enjoy.
First of all, a majority of French people consider that the systems of protection against financial risk, unemployment and poverty provide the same (32%) or better protection (31%) than they did five years ago even though 37% consider they are not as well protected as before. In this respect, they are among the most confident Europeans.
Next, out of seventeen risks examined, they figure among the Europeans who most frequently say they are protected (either by an insurance system or by the State). This is more specifically the case for all property and health risks. Compared with the European average, far fewer French people say they have no protection against destruction of their home (15% versus 32% overall), car theft (18% versus 30% overall) and burglary (16% versus 33% overall). However, they feel far less well protected against social risks, particularly loss of employment (53% feel unprotected) and risks linked to invalidity and disability. But even in respect of these types of risks, they feel better protected than the European average.
Above all, despite a relatively strong feeling of protection compared with the European average, on the whole French people are just as worried as other Europeans about the risks to which they could be exposed (except those relating to material goods). They express relatively strong anxiety about the threat of illness (75% versus 74% overall), invalidity (67% versus 65% overall) and loss of autonomy (71% versus 68% overall). With regard to unemployment, they are concerned (50%) but less than the other European countries (57%) as they feel their protection system to be efficient in this area.
It could be argued that the very fact that the French protection system is viewed as efficient is a source of anxiety in itself. The French are probably haunted by the fear that this model, which has provided fairly good protection in nearly all areas, is on its last legs, and that its disappearance will be followed by chaos.
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