Over-indebtedness: claims rose 8%, according to the Banque de France

French debts: moderate growth but under watchful eye

The number of excessive debt claims filed rose by 8% in the year to 2023 and the figure remains stable, according to the Banque de France. The total amount of debt owed by French people in this situation amounted to €4,2 billion. Total debt is also 27 % lower than in 2019, the year before the pandemic, and has almost halved in a decade, the bank said.

Including all debts, the median debt is 18 446 euros, according to data from Banque de France's annual typology study of household over-indebtedness. Consumer credit debts account for 40 % of total debt, and this share has risen by two points since 2022. Property-related debts have fallen to 27 % (down from 29 % a year ago).

Current service payments (housing, tax, energy, telephone) remain stable at 33 % of total debt. Within this category, debts related to energy and communication bills rose slightly in 2023, by 3 %, compared to 2022, but this increase "should be put in perspective" as energy debts represent "only 2 %" of total household debt, said Hélène Arveiller, deputy director of private banking at Banque de France. Tariff shields introduced by the government to combat soaring energy prices "have certainly played a role in 2023," she told a press conference. As these subsidies are phased out, the Banque de France will be "closely" monitoring the possible impact on the financial woes of the French.

According to Hélène Arveiller, although the number of excessive debt claims filed rose by 8 % over the year, this growth remains "moderate" and "does not immediately correlate with inflation." In her view, the increase can be attributed more to "a kind of normalization" after three "highly atypical" Covid-related years. The study, conducted by the Center for the Study and Observation of Living Conditions (Crédoc) for the Banque de France and published on January 22, showed that in the face of inflation, the most frugal families were able to limit banking incidents by adapting their budgetary behavior, using their savings or refusing to spend, Hélène Arveiller noted.

The profile of over-indebtedness has not changed in recent years and continues to affect more women, the unemployed and people living below the poverty line.


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