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The Thirty Glorious


The expression "Les Trente Glorieuses" is taken from the title of the work written by Jean Fourastié and published for the first time in 1979. The author, echoing the three revolutionary days of 1830, speaks of the Trente Glorieuses as a " invisible revolution " characterized by thirty years of economic expansion between 1946 and 1975. The changes which are of several kinds concern demography, the diversity of leisure activities, tertiarization, new capital goods or even the increase in schooling and purchasing power. Intended for historians, to the economists and at General public, this popularized work draws on a variety of sources to highlight the progress of this period.

After the second War global, France is weakened morally and especially economically. It is with the help of Marshall plan that she will manage to get up. This is a thirteen billion dollar economic aid provided in 1947 by the United States to sixteen countries to help rebuild a devastated Europe. The baby boom will help stimulate consumption and production. In thirty years, the French population has increased from 40 to 53 million inhabitants and has been able to catch up with its technological backwardness vis-à-vis the United States. In 1975, France has become urbanized and tertiarized. In order to study this period, Jean Fourastié, who is wary of overly abstract theories, favored an empirical approach based on the statistical compilation and historical observation.

A popularized work

Jean Fourastié specializes in a specific type of work: the general public economic trial which has since amplified. Lively and with a "spoken" style, his study is broken down into three parts. The first, based on facts, discusses without explaining the various changes in the economic and social fields. The second reveals the reasons for such an expansion, and the third examines the consequences and limits of this period through the excluded and persistent income inequalities.

To help the reader better understand his thoughts, he compares two villages: Madeira and Cessac, which in reality form one and the same village: Douelle and which is analyzed before and after the Trente Glorieuses. The study is punctuated by rich and varied sources. The author illustrates his remarks with statistical tables, extracts from works by sociologists, historians, politicians and is also based on testimonies. He mentions in particular the book by Jean Jaurès, a socialist parliamentarian, entitled Socialist history which allows him to know the average salary of a worker under the old regime.

In addition, to reconstruct typical conversations on how the French perceive the technical progress of the Thirty Glorious Years, Jean Fourastié used questionnaires given to students, words from listeners during conferences, newspapers and television. . This progress is thus seen as a necessity. here are sample conversations relating to capital goods: "Did you have a bathroom done this year?" - It is necessary. Everyone has them. "" You have a car now - we can't do without it. To go to work by train, it was no longer possible. " "You have the phone ? - Yes, that's very convenient; we don't write anymore. " "But is all this expensive? - Yes. We borrowed from Crédit Agricole ”.

Extensive use of statistical sources

The author has used numerous statistical tables and graphs to compare the economic and social situations of 1946 and 1975. His main source is the I.N.S.E.E. This is the National Institute of the statistics and Economic Studies which replaced the National Statistics Service in 1946 and which was to conduct a large number of of investigations and of censuses. He considers the I.N.S.E.E as a reliable and indispensable source: " So we have to settle for clues. The best seems to us to be provided by I.N.S.E.E. (always him!) ... ". These tables are taken from the monthly publication Economics and Statistics but also other publications like Social data, Statistical directories.

It also uses studies from S.E.I.S, the Department of Computer and Statistical Studies to obtain the number of pupils and full-time students from 1963 to 1975. However, it is confronted with the difficulties linked to the scarcity of sources and the lack of precision of certain censuses. Margins of error can reach up to 15%. In addition, the cost of living indices calculated by the CGT and I.N.S.E.E. do not match.

About Jean Fourastié

Our author is both historian and economist, member of the planning commission and a graduate of the Free School of Political Sciences. From the second War worldwide, he began a career as an economic advisor. It is also a university who was appointed in 1947, professor at the Institut d'Etudes Politiques in Paris and, in 1960, professor at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. He partly wrote his research with his wife and daughter. The most significant are The Great Hope of the 20th century and The 40,000 Hours, published in 1949 and 1965 respectively. He was one of the first to study this period of expansion with Colin Clark, a British economist and author of The conditions of Economic Progress. Published in 1979, the work on Thirty glorious was so successful that it was the subject of several reissues and numerous translations. The 2004 reissue includes an introduction by brilliant economist Daniel Cohen.

Jean Fourastié died in 1990 in Douelle and left behind him a famous expression and a work of quality. He was able to take a step back and give a name to this period of economic and social transformations. The Fourastié Prize testifies to the key role of the economist and his success. A committee was created in his name in 1998 by French and foreign intellectuals to promote and reward works extending that of Jean Fourastié. This prize was awarded in particular to the historian Jacques Marseilles in 2005 for his book: The war of the two France: the one which advances and which slows down published in 2004. This book takes over from the Thirty Glorious Years, and analyzes the last thirty years (from 1975 to 2005) as a period of enrichment and competitiveness which prolongs the development of our country

Les Trente Glorieuses by Jean Fourastié, Hachette literature, 2004, 288 pages, € 8.40, available in our shop.


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