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France: The public sector under pressure

Abstract : This chapter analyses the recent changes in the French Public Sector, and in particular the impact of the crisis. In France, the crisis that started in 2008 erupted in a context in which significant reforms had been introduced recently, affecting both the size and the organization of the public service, which plays a crucial role in France as it employs about one-fifth of the total workforce. This raises a methodological issue, as it may become difficult to disentangle, in the changes undergone by the public sector, what is due to reforms introduced before the crisis and what results directly from measures induced by the crisis. France is indeed a good example of a mix of structural reforms and quantitative adjustments in the public service which raises the issue of how they are combined or when and where they may reveal antagonisms. The issue is complex because if some structural changes result directly from policies intended to reform the public sector, others may also be induced by the quantitative adjustments themselves, such as job cuts, for instance, that may impact on public service organization and delivery. The consequences of public sector adjustments can first be assessed in terms of their impact on the public employees - concerning employment level and status, wage level and structure, but also work organization and working conditions. The second set of consequences that must be taken into account concerns the labour market. As the public service is a significant employer of well-educated school-leavers and of women, these categories may be more affected by the freeze on hiring and/or job cuts. Finally, one needs to investigate the consequences of the adjustments for public service delivery, in both quantitative and qualitative terms. Section 2 focuses on the main features of the adjustments in the French public sector, beginning by mapping the background, before presenting the main measures. Section 3 focuses on consequences in terms of pay, employment and public service activities. Section 4 introduces two case studies to illustrate both the modalities of adjustment and their effective and potential impacts. Section 5 summarizes findings and offers some concluding remarks on the policy issues raised by these adjustments.
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Contributor : Jérôme Gautié <>
Submitted on : Friday, April 26, 2013 - 3:31:54 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:08:27 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00818309, version 1



Jérôme Gautié. France: The public sector under pressure. Daniel Vaugham-Whitehead. Public Sector Shock. The Impact of Policy Retrenchment in Europe, Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.1174-213, 2013. ⟨halshs-00818309⟩



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