French living standards hit by crisis, poverty rate

French living standards dropped in 2010 as the eurozone debt crisis hit, with the poverty rate climbing to its highest in 13 years, data from the national statistics office showed.

The median per capita living standard in France in 2010 was 19,270 euros in 2010 ($24,364 at the current exchange rate), according to an INSEE report released on Thursday.

The amount, equivalent to 1,610 euros per month, represents a 0.5 percent decline from 2009 when inflation is taken into account.

"One has to go back to 2004 to find such a drop," said INSEE, noting it had grown on average by 1.7 percent per year between 2004 and 2008.

France entered a recession in 2010 as the eurozone debt crisis erupted with Greece and Ireland needing to be bailed out, although for the year as a whole the economy grew.

"Despite the context of an economic recovery in 2010, although moderate, practically all the sections of the population suffered a drop," INSEE said.

Only the five percent at the top end of the scale saw their situation improve, gaining 1.3 percent over 2009.

The poverty rate increased by 0.6 percentage points to 14.1 percent, noted INSEE.

In 2010, 8.6 million people were living the poverty level of 964 euros per month, with half of them making do with less than 781 euros per month.

Children were being increasingly affected by poverty, accounting for 63 percent of the increase in 2010, said INSEE.

The living standard is an adjustment of household income per head to allow for comparison between different size families and is not simple expression of income.

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