The Economy of France

France ranks in the top ten nations with the highest GDP (PPP- purchase power parity) in the world. Though the growth rate of the French economy is considerably slower compared to the other European countries, the population below the poverty line is relatively minor. It is said to be one of the lowest in the world.

It is observed that less than 10% of the French population is poor after deduction of necessary taxes. The unemployment rate in France is also one of the highest in the European Union, which is over 7%, based on the results of a survey done in the year 2008.

France has been one of the strongest economies in Europe and was a prime supporter of the European Union, making Euro its single currency. The Euro completely replaced France’s local currency, the Franc, in the year 2002. The three sectors that are main contributors to the national GDP are:

  • service industry
  • manufacturing industry
  • agriculture industry.

Service industry

The service industry is the highest revenue generating industry in France. It generates about three-fourths of the national GDP. The different types of potential service industries are: hospitality, finance, insurance, legal, logistics and other similar business service industries.

Manufacturing industry

France is one of the leaders in applying the latest technology in different types of manufacturing industries. The French government also spends a considerable amount of money doing research to invent new technologies that would improve the quality and quantity of industrial products.

Secondly, though France doesn’t have oil reserves of its own, it does have a strong base of nuclear power generators that provides the necessary energy required to drive its industry. Almost 80% of the total electricity requirement is fulfilled by the nuclear power generation plants.

The prominent manufacturing industries of France include but are not limited to: aerospace, automobile, armament, construction, chemical, telecommunication, satellite equipment, shipbuilding, and pharmaceutical. These diverse industries create around 25% of the national GDP.


France is one of the largest agricultural countries in the world and ranks in the top ten producing nations. With the surplus production, France is able to export a substantial amount of agricultural products like:

  • wheat
  • poultry
  • beef
  • dairy products.

The main importing countries of these products from France are other neighboring nations in European Union and those in the African continent. Regardless of these positive aspects, the agriculture industry contributes less than 5% towards the GDP.

The Economic History of France

The economic history of France during the fifteenth century was more dependent on agriculture, as there wasn’t much industrial development, and about 90% of the French population lived in rural areas.

The only large city in France was Paris. The main cash crops were saffron, olives, wine grapes and cider apples. Though agriculture was the prime mode of revenue generation, yields were quite low compared to those of the modern age due to the use of older methods of agriculture. This was an increasing challenge in that situation as the population was growing day by day.

By the end of the fifteenth century, the printing industry and the extraction of metals were the only two fields that showed considerable developments. There were a few applications of industrial developments to agricultural production, like making silk textiles from silk worms and wool extracted from sheep.

French ports”like Rouen, Marseille, La Rochelle, Saint-Malo, and Toulon”were the other major source of revenue. Several goods from France were exported through these ports, while others were imported and sold in domestic markets. This is how successful trading businesses helped to bolster the economy throughout the economic history of France.

By end of the sixteenth century and earlier part of seventeenth century, the economic history of France started showing a sharp rise. This was mainly due to the introduction of good administration practices and monetary reforms introduced by King Henry IV of France.

Along with economic reforms, King Henry IV also invested in the development of infrastructures that included roads for better transportation and canals for irrigating lands in order to increase agricultural production. Due to these developments, the economy of France grew more potent because of increased trade and agriculture. After this period, the economic history of France took a downward trend and improved only after the first quarter of the eighteenth century.

From the year 1730, France started gaining better output from the introduction of new techniques in agriculture. These included the use of fertilizers for boosting crop production and the inclusion of new types of crops in such a manner that there were multiple crops grown in different intervals covering the total span of a year.

The industrial sector remained undeveloped until the nineteenth century, regardless of the good agricultural developments. Industries developed mainly when the necessary funds became available from banking institutions. By the end of the nineteenth century, France had several industrial developments and was ranked as the third most industrialized nation in Europe, behind Germany and Britain.

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