With the coronavirus crisis, the world population is becoming poorer and in France, the Secours populaire is sounding the alert.

Esther Duflo, Nobel Prize in economics, presents at the microphone of Frédéric Taddéï on Europe 1 some ideas not to leave the poorest on the side of the road.


For eight months, poverty has jumped in France.

One in three French people has suffered a loss of income and one in seven French people skip a meal a day, one in two in the most modest homes, according to figures from the Secours populaire and the Salvation Army.

How not to leave the most precarious by the wayside of the coronavirus epidemic?

Esther Duflo, Nobel laureate in economics whose last book

Economics useful for difficult times

 came out in March, presented a few proposals on Europe 1, while during this pandemic "the rich have become richer, the poor poorer".

Even if the most impoverished are targeted by the measures announced Thursday by Jean Castex, they remain the first victims of the coronavirus crisis ...

"Yes. Our social insurance systems are built more on exclusion than inclusion. We are trying to avoid giving to the 'bad poor' and only recovering the 'good poor'. However, faced with a crisis like the coronavirus, we must include as much as possible. However, we have social protection systems whose architecture is not really adapted to solve this problem. It should be reinvented to a large extent. (...) We have a system that is very complicated, because there is this fear, in the background, of helping people who don't really need it or who don't really deserve it. Young people, students, have to prove that they are really really very poor to deserve the RSA, as if, if they had a more generous RSA, they would be tempted to bask in their poverty. "

>> Find all of Frédéric Taddeï's programs in podcast and replay here

In your book

Useful economy for hard times

, you talk about the universal basic income, which would leave no one by the wayside since everyone would receive it from the age of majority.

Is it viable?

"It's viable in a country like France. The big disadvantage of a universal income is that it doesn't differentiate between those who really need help and those who don't. - for example, those who already have an income. In France, we could say that we do not need it, because in principle we have the statistical resources to identify those who need help and come to In poorer countries where statistical systems work less well, the advantage of a universal income is to leave no one behind.

The problem in France is that although the statistical apparatus exists, there is not necessarily the will to be generous and inclusive in the system.

But it would be possible, without going completely towards universality, to have at least a guaranteed minimum income for all.

Universality is very, very expensive: in a country like France, universal income would necessarily be very, very low.

Or, it would take the place of other forms of assistance, such as training or early childhood assistance, etc.

So there is really a choice to be made between this universality, which has the advantage of leaving no one behind, and aids which could be more generous if they were concentrated on those who needed it.

But in this case, it really requires making a greater effort than the one we are making today, to identify these people.

Today there are too many hurdles to overcome to end up earning the income. "


We must create jobs that are useful for society


Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, during the American Democratic campaign, proposed a sort of "Green New Deal", a state guarantee whereby anyone wishing to work would be entitled to a voucher for a $ 15 job. hour with a pension, Social Security, paid vacation.

Does such a measure have a future?

"I think this is a measure that can be important. In any case, jobs have to be created. What we are proposing in our book is a clever" Green New Deal "or clever Keynesianism where , not only do we give a guarantee, but above all, we create jobs which are useful for society, but which do not necessarily have sufficient profitability for the private sector. For example, support jobs in the National Education, supervisors, early childhood support roles, working with the poor, to help the elderly stay at home independently as long as possible ...

We have clearly seen in the coronavirus crisis that support for young children and the elderly were two sectors that need more staff.

These are actors who are good for society, who cannot be replaced by computers or robots, who cannot be exported to China, who are one of the sectors where jobs will remain and who are potentially creators not only of jobs. for students, but at the start of their career.

This necessarily means funding behind and therefore increasing the education budgets or the budget for the elderly. "


> Coronavirus: what schedule for vaccination in France?

> These three facets of the coronavirus that you may not have heard of

> Covid: should we be concerned if headaches persist after recovery?

> When are we in contact?

And other questions that we ask ourselves every day

> Coronavirus: the 5 mistakes not to make with your mask

There are aids to help people move, to change jobs or regions.

You have a pretty radical idea in your book: we could subsidize some of the older workers to stay where they are?

"One of the assumptions that both economists and politicians make in the labor market, that workers are fluid and can move to another region if there is a problem, is grossly wrong. In fact, what we find around the world, in France, but also in the United States, is that people prefer to stay at home and in the sector they work in. Mobility is extremely difficult and expensive. Hence the two answers: if people are young enough, that they have a whole career ahead of them, we must help them in this mobility (financially, to find accommodation, to move around ...) But if people are too old for starting a new career to be meaningful, it may make sense to pay them to stay in place. This can be seen as the equivalent of the common agricultural policy. We pay so that the social, economic environment does not fall. not in a spiral of depression. (…)

Allowing people to stay in place, even if their work is no longer economically viable without this help, ultimately helps keep life in a territory and a region, which allows other companies to say 'hey , we may be moving there '.

In northern Spain there has been a decline in the industrial fabric, but heavy subsidies so that people can stay where they were.

And the old industrial fabric has been gradually replaced by more modern companies in the IT sector.

A transition was made over several years, smoothly and without the type of trauma we see in some cities, whether in eastern France or in the middle of the United States. "