French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe speaks with pupils as he visits the Jean Perrin secondary school  ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images

Macron’s Education Revolution

French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn fire for his pro-growth economic reforms, which some critics have characterized as giveaways to corporations and the wealthy. But, when considered in full, Macron's agenda is clearly aimed at reducing inequality and boosting social mobility.

PARIS – Since eliminating a wealth tax and imposing a flat tax on capital gains, French President Emmanuel Macron opponents have quite maliciously compared him to US President Donald Trump, who slashed taxes for the wealthiest Americans in December. Some of his harshest critics even refer to Macron as a “president for the rich.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. Viewed in full, Macron’s reform agenda offers a new and promising approach to tackling inequality and social immobility in France. And, at any rate, the United States and France are hardly comparable on these issues. Although income inequality has increased in France since 1990, it remains well below that of other developed countries.

Specifically, the ratio of the top 10% of the income distribution to the bottom 10% is five times higher in the US than in France (see graph). Moreover, at 13.6%, the French poverty rate is lower than that of Sweden (14.5%) and Germany (16.7%). And all three of these European countries have poverty rates far below that of the US.

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