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Africa

Racism boosts second-generation African immigrant unemployment in France, report

media An employment exchange in Paris - unemployment among under-25s of African origin is over 40 per cent Reuters/Christian Hartmann

Discrimination is keeping the children of immigrants at the bottom of France’s economic pile, a report advised Prime Minister Manuel Valls this weekend. Young men of sub-Saharan African origin face the biggest obstacles in finding jobs, ahead of a ministers’ meeting on tackling inequality.

Figures compiled from a number of studies show that economic integration is a “massive” problem for the descendants of immigrants, said Jean Pisani-Ferry, the head of France Stratégie, a body attached to the prime minister’s office.

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In 2012 unemployment among under-25s of African origin was 42 per cent in 2012, compared to 22 per cent among descendants of European immigrants and those of families long-established in France.

Among children of immigrants from other continents it was 29 per cent.

“The young man of sub-Saharan origin is the one who has the most difficulty,” Pisani-Ferry said.

“The colour bar still exists, that’s the main source of inequality,” Bernadette Hétier of French anti-racism campaign Mrap told RFI. “But the study had to do with young men and, whether from sub-Saharan Africa or northern Africa, racism against young men is stronger than racism against young women.”

She blames “fantasies, in the negative sense of the word” leading to a perception that “men are seen as more dangerous”.

“There is an element of fear,” she added.

The report does not blame discrimination exclusively, pointing to training, family background and place of residence as other factors that affect employment prospects.

Lack of useful contacts and language skills may also have some impact, it finds, but “part can also be attributed to discriminatory behaviour”.

“A quarter of immigrants and descendants of immigrants declared that they have experienced discrimination over the last five years, nearly half of those of Sub-Saharan African origin, the main criterion of discrimination felt to be skin colour,” the study says.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls stirred debate after January’s Charlie Hebdo attacks when he said that a form of apartheid existed in France.

The study found inequality affecting the children of immigrants in a number of spheres:

  • 14 per cent lived in officially recognised deprived areas, compared to 4.0 per cent of the total population in 2008;
  • 24 per cent left school without qualifications, compared to 16 per cent;
  • Median household annual income was 13,360 euros, compared to 20,310, in 2011;
  • 33 per cent of 18-50-year-olds lived in public housing, compared to 13 per cent of people of European Union origin.

"In human rights associations in France, we are of the opinion that the colonial history of France is very important from that point of view," Hétier commented. "There were eight years of very serious war between colonial France and Algeria and for years and years we had a real problem of racism against people of north African origin. But, at a later stage, migrants from sub-Saharan Africa started coming to France. That accelerated in recent years, but we’d still find it hard to believe that this population suffers from more racism than the north Africans."

The study calls for measures to be considered to help deprived areas and descendants of immigrants, while rejecting “differentiation” according to origin.

A ministerial meeting to discuss an action plan on inequality is to be held on 6 March.
 

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