It’s a fact, the French population is in debt. The Banque de France has noted this in its quarterly reports for several years now. An improvement in the situation, however, emerges from the latest over-indebtedness barometer published in June 2015: the number of files filed by individuals with over-indebtedness commissions between July 2014 and June 2015 was slightly down (-2.6%).

A decline that must nevertheless be relativized in the face of the seriousness of reality. Since 2010, nearly 987 000 applications have been declared eligible for the over-indebtedness treatment procedure, ie files considered to have excessive debt levels for the financial capacities of the households concerned.

Over-indebtedness, a plague of society

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The report published by the Banque de France in June 2015 contains a paradoxical element: on the one hand, the number of files filed with the overindebtedness commissions decreased between 2014 and 2015, but on the other hand, the number of files accepted, and therefore receivable for the treatment of over-indebtedness, has been steadily increasing since 2010.

The number of French households in a situation of over-indebtedness has therefore risen steadily in recent years. In January 2011, the report issued by the Banque de France included 688 households in debt distress; they are 839 in January 2015. Among the incoming files, the number of re-deposits, that is to say the files which are deposited a second time, is also increasing.

About 50% of redeposited files are due to a change in the personal life of the household (divorce, death …) or professional (unemployment, disability ….).

Also according to the results published by the Banque de France in the second quarter of 2015, the average amount of over-indebtedness of all the accepted files amounts to € 40,800, all debts included; Excluding real estate debt, the average indebtedness per dossier filed is 26,900 euros. In addition, the June 2015 barometer shows that financial debts are the main cause of over-indebtedness of French households. They account for 78.6% of overall indebtedness, with current account arrears accounting for 11.2% and the remaining categories of debt 10.2%. Financial debts consist of several categories of debt, namely:

    • consumer credit;
    • real estate loans;
    • overdrafts and various overtaking;
    • consumer credit (the main reason for the over-indebtedness of the French population).

Which households are affected?

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A study, also conducted by the Banque de France for the year 2014, analyzes the different socio-demographic and professional characteristics of over-indebted households. This study clearly highlights the predominance of the segment of the population most affected by over-indebtedness: that of people living alone. Whether single, separated, divorced or widowed, unattached individuals account for 64.6% of the households recognized as over-indebted during 2014.

The survey also reveals that people aged 35 to 54 are the most affected in this segment of the population (about 27%), followed closely by those over 55 (23%). In addition, the Banque de France notes that tenants are generally more over-indebted (77.5%) than homeowners, even though they are increasing (10.8%).

From a socio-professional point of view, the survey shows that people experiencing professional difficulties are the most affected by over-indebtedness: 28.7% are unemployed, 11.9% are unemployed, and 9.7% are unemployed. % of people without professional activity (disability, parental leave …). With regard to persons engaged in professional activity, workers and employees are the most over-indebted sections of employees (respectively 24.3% and 34.4%). Indeed, the same study shows that households with monthly resources less than or equal to 2,000 euros are generally the most over-indebted (76.3%).

Since the level of resources of over-indebted households is relatively low, debt repayment capacity is therefore lower. The monthly resources available for the various payments (rent, rental charges, food expenses, etc.) are often quickly exhausted and are not sufficient to clear the remaining debts resulting from the various credits. The Banque de France observes that half of the over-indebtedness files filed with the commissions are accepted due to the lack of household repayment capacity (53.5%). The difficulties of cash and solvency affect unfortunately a good number of households everywhere in France, the mixed indebtedness (credits and current expenses) only increasing with the time.