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... according to one astonishing poll, three-quarters of young French people today would like to become civil servants, and mostly because that would mean "a job for life".

I've often heard this said, without seeing the poll. The only one I can find that gives this "three-quarters" number is an IPSOS poll from 2004.

I think it's fair to note that the poll was carried out for a local government periodical and reflected its interests. Also the wording of the question:

Les trois-quarts des jeunes de 15 à 30 ans interrogés par Ipsos (75%) déclarent en effet "qu'ils aimeraient travailler dans la fonction publique s'ils en avaient l'opportunité" contre 24% qui se montrent plutôt hostiles à cette idée.

Three-quarters of young people from 15 to 30 years of age questioned by ISOS (75%) said "that they would like to work in the civil service if they had the opportunity", against 24% who showed hostility to this idea.

I think the poll was meant to test the image of the civil service among young people, more than their actual job-seeking intentions.

However... I wouldn't be at all surprised if other polls confirmed a wish, even vague, for a civil service job among many young people. I think it has always been like that in France. One thing to put in the mix is that we are talking here about jobs in the civil service per se (service of the State), but also of teaching jobs (teachers are civil servants in France), hospital jobs, local government jobs... In other words, a larger field than if we were talking about Britain, at least (to mention a country I know a bit about).

The main motivation (though there are others) for this wish is, of course, job security. It's fairly common in France to hear parents tell their kids to get a job in the public sector so they'll be sure where they're going. It's not a feeling I have empathy for, but I don't see what's wrong with it. Since when does everyone have to pretend to be a yuppie? Since when does market capitalism actually give a good and secure living to anyone but a minority? Since when was it proved that if we don't all flog ourselves to death to be mobile, flexible, retrainable, eventually outsourceable, we are doomed by inevitable economic logic?

But maybe I'm enouncing a "discredited creed"...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Mar 31st, 2006 at 03:43:45 PM EST

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