France Will Experience Riots Very Soon Says Freakonomics

Freakonomics has an interesting post on their blog claiming that the economically suffering people of France are growing restless. In the next three years we’ll see a serious riot unless France changes track. Freakonomics is no tabloid, which makes this clanging alarm bell warning all the more…um, alarming:

Freakonomics: I predict that the world will watch French cities light up in youth unrest in 2009, 2010 at the latest … 2011 for sure.

I have been travelling to the suburbs outside of Paris trying to understand the parallels between French marginality and U.S. urban poverty. (The “suburbs” or banlieues in France carry the opposite connotation as the U.S.: namely, predominantly nonwhite, poor, excluded from the general life of the wider society.)

I am struck at the resonances between the voices of young people in contemporary France and the cries of those who rebelled in U.S. inner cities in the 1960’s — arguably the last time we had nationwide un-civil unrest. French youth in the suburbs are mostly North African in origin — or from other parts of Francophone Africa. They are also mad as hell. Decades of poverty and social exclusion have created a growing cohort of teenagers and 20-somethings who feel no investment in their nation.

The story continues, saying that the French government is indifferent to the race and socioeconomic clashes popping up across the nation. Different religions and nationalities are leading the nation down a path of divisivness that isn’t being soothed by the government. In spite of the various differences, the author found that the people of France are fans of Barack Obama. Just like the people of the U.S.


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