There is an article in today’s Guardian about how France might change now that Sarkozy is in charge. What interested me most was a few statistics comparing the USA, which the new president openly admires and wants to emulate, and France as they are now.

America v France

How the two countries compare


US: 301m. France: 61m

Life expectancy

US: male 75.15 years, female 80.97 years.

France: male 77.35 years, female 84 years.

Median age

US: 36.6 years. France: 39 years

Working week

US: approx 46 hours. France: usually 35 hours

Population living below the poverty line (for two adults and one child)

US: 12%. France: 6.2%

Minimum wage

US: varies widely from state to state – no such thing in Alabama. France: €8.27

Usual retirement age

US: 65-67. France: 60

Prison population

US: 2 million plus. France: 50,500 plus

Number of murders a year

US: 16,692. France: approx 1,000

Number of overweight citizens

US: a little more than two thirds. France: a little under one third

Public transport

US: bus, train and subway are all hit and miss. France: train, metro, bus and tram are all notoriously punctual

It’ll be interesting to see whether some of these figures change much in the next five years (the working week, the minimum wage, the retirement age, the prison population in particular).