Observatory of the social impact of the crisis in Paris

October 2021, last updated 15 February 2022
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Préparation de repas par des bénévoles pour des personnes sans domicile fixe, avril 2020 © Joséphine Brueder – Ville de Paris

A need for observation and action in a singular context

Since March 2020 the lives of Parisians, and more broadly the French as a whole, have been profoundly shaken by the Covid-19 crisis and its multiple effects.

The first available data clearly indicate the particular acuteness of the economic crisis in Paris. In 2020, 45,700 salaried jobs were destroyed in Paris, representing a regional loss of 44% with a national loss of 15%. In that year, the average level of unemployment rose by 0.5 points in Paris while it dropped very slightly in mainland France. It touched 6.8% of the working population by the end of December 2020.

In this context, an Observatory of the Parisian Economy was launched in March 2021.

At the same time, the number of category A jobseekers increased by 16% in one year in Paris, compared with +8% in France. Young people were particularly affected, with an increase of 32% in the number of jobseekers under 25 in one year, compared with +9% in France. Over 67,600 RSA beneficiaries were counted in Paris in March 2021, that is an increase of +8.2% in one year (a greater increase than nationally).

While these figures show that an economic crisis is taking hold, its concrete social effects are still difficult to objectify, either because available data have not yet been systematically compiled, or because they are yet to be seen due to the exceptional measures taken in Paris and elsewhere to limit the immediate impact of the crisis. 

What are the immediate and long-term social impacts of the crisis which is taking hold? What impact has the drop in income had, is having and will have for those employed part-time or (precarious) workers who have lost their jobs? What effects has this crisis had, is having and could have on the budgets and lives of families, young people (students or not), and single people? What is the impact of successive lockdowns in terms of the psychological fragility of households? What is the impact of the crisis in terms of people going to the City’s social spaces and services? What will be the extent of the social crisis when the exceptional measures are lifted (solidarity bonuses and exceptional aid, social aid automatically renewed during a period, extension of the eviction truce until June 2021 etc.)? 

In order to answer these questions and to optimise their readiness to react, the City of Paris and its partners decided to put in place a framework that makes it possible to analyse, anticipate and coordinate responses to the entire social field in Paris. 

Ambitions and objectives

Accompanied by Apur, the process should enable the City of Paris and its partners to have information on the social effects of the crisis in real-time.  

The objectives are: 

  • To establish statistical monitoring of available data on the social situation on the scale of Paris and its districts, so as to be able to trigger immediate responses to identified social needs.
  • To provide a forum for exchanging and sharing, that promotes preventive social action.
  • To identify ongoing partnership work in order to communicate about it and make it more widely known.
  • To promote, in the long-term, the production of in depth, thematic studies on the effects of the social crisis on the scale of Paris and Greater Paris  - Grand Paris. 

Three methodological lines structure the observation approach with the operational aim of establishing:

  • A statistical overview that monitors the social effects of the crisis.
  • A survey process using questionnaires and interviews aimed at professionals in social and voluntary sectors.
  • A documentation watch that lists published and ongoing articles, studies and research work.


Partnership meetings will bring together a first circle of partners: City of Paris, Caf de Paris, Samusocial de Paris, Atelier Parisien d’urbanisme (Apur), Préfecture de région, Fédération des acteurs de la solidarité (FAS), CPAM, CNAV, Crous, Pôle emploi. 

Les partenaires de l'étude © Apur

1st Line of approach - CURRENT DATA

This approach is based on a panel of statistical indicators intended to enable the many social effects of the crisis to be monitored. It includes a list of multi-thematic indicators organised under 8 main questions:

  • What impact does the crisis have on access to, the right to and the use of, social aid and support measures?
  • What impact does the crisis have on people in a professional integration process and those looking for work?
  • What impact does the crisis have on Parisians’ access to housing and maintaining stable residency?
  • What impact does the crisis have on education, school attendance and the training of children and young Parisians?
  • What impact does the crisis have on the budget of Parisians?
  • What impact does the crisis have on maintaining a healthy diet and enough to eat for Parisians?
  • What impact does the crisis have on the elderly and those who are dependant or disabled?
  • Apart from the pandemic, how is the health of Parisians affected by the social, economic and health crisis?

There are many sources of data (City of Paris, Caf de Paris, CPAM, CNAV, Rectorat, Samu Social de Paris, associations…). The panel of indicators will continue to be added to as data becomes available and data will be regularly updated. 

These indicators are intended to provide a clear view of the extent of the crisis and its effects. The statistical monitoring enables the significant, current trends to be recorded, for which an immediate public response is needed and the weaker signals of the crisis, thus enabling social action to be placed within a logic of prevention. 

Depending on their availability, data providing information on changes in Paris on as fine a scale as possible (neighbourhood, district) will be put into perpective from a temporal point of view (comparing 2019 with 2021) and spatial point of view (comparing metropolitan, regional and national data). 

Paris - Évolution du nombre de foyers allocataires du RSA entre janvier 2019 et décembre 2021 © Apur


2nd Line of approach - SURVEYS

The analysis of the effects of the social crisis which is taking hold cannot be observed solely from a statistical viewpoint. This is why several complementary, qualitative tools are used.

The first of these is a questionnaire intended to reveal the needs observed by the multiple social players in the field. The results are analysed at regular intervals.

The objective of the questionnaire is to provide information on:

  • The current and foreseeable signs of the crisis and its effects in terms of (non-) use of aid and support services.
  • The impacts of the crisis on different sectors of the public (changes in profiles, numbers and needs),
  • The coherence and relevance of public and associative responses provided.
  • The coordination of partners, the conditions of reception of members of the public and their level of information on the social offer available in Paris.
  • Exceptional aid, schemes, partnerships and modes of information put in place in connection with the crisis.

All types of public and associative players, whatever their area and level of involvement, can complete the questionnaire that takes from 10 to 15 minutes.

The second survey tool consists of conducting interviews with various different players in the social and medico-social field.

Five themes structure the semi-structured interviews:

  • How the impact of the health crisis on their activities, is perceived by players encountered,
  • Analysis of (new) sectors of the public and their needs.
  • Exchanging on access to aid and schemes.
  • How the complementarity and articulation of public action is perceived.
  • Feedback on issues of concern and needs. 

The qualitative data gathered will put and will be put into perspective with statistical data in order to be aware of the major trends and weak signals that emerge.

3rd Line of approach - DOCUMENTATION WATCH

Since March 2021, Apur’s documentation service has set up a watch focusing on issues related to the economic and social crisis linked to Covid-19 in Paris.

This watch lists articles, studies and research work published and in progress on the subject. It shares the latest news on production by partners involved in the process, as well as media treatment of the social impact of the crisis in Paris, the Metropolis and in other territories.

Partnership meetings will offer an opportunity to share the results of certain work carried out by partners.

July 2021 Framework Note


  • March to May 2021: preparatory work
  • June 2021: official launch
  • October 2021: first report on the situation and partnership meeting
  • Autumn 2021: Partnership meetings
  • April / May 2022: second report on the situation and partnership meeting