Social protection in France

Welfare in France (also known as social protection, from French: Protection sociale) includes all systems whose purpose is to protect people against the financial consequences of social risks (illness, maternity, old age, unemployment).

Social welfare refers to all the mechanisms of collective foresight, enabling individuals to cope with the financial consequences of "social risks". These are situations that could jeopardize the economic security of the individual or their family (defined as a group of people bound by ties of lineage and alliance), causing a decline in its resources or increase its expenditure (old age, sickness, disability, unemployment, maternity, family responsibilities, etc.). In France, the welfare system make up for about 500 billion euros annually, or more than 30% of GDP.

The origin of social protection in France dates back to medieval times, with fraternal benefit societies. In the second half of the nineteenth century, systems of social assistance developed gradually, often launched by employers marked by social Catholicism, then relayed by the first laws. In 1930, modern social insurance was created, offering employees protection against certain risks: accidents, sickness, disability, maternity, old age, death ... During the Second World War, the National Council of Resistance designed the system of social security, now at the heart of social protection. It was created just after the Liberation, by an order of 4 October 1945, followed by other texts. Gradually, protection has covered the entire population, while the benefits extend.

When creating Social Security, France imitated more the Bismarckian system (insurance for workers) than the Beveridge one (widespread solidarity). Over the years, the solidarity (as opposed to a system of contributions) has gradually developed in the French system, which the foundation remains the concept of insurance. However, the desire to establish a universal system has faced opposition. This explains why the French welfare system is plural, with a wide variety of actors. The most important is the general scheme for employees of industry, commerce and services.