Policy Briefs

Your Guide to the French Government

Published: June 2012

In spring 2012, a few months before the highly anticipated American presidential elections and with the eurozone experiencing a major crisis, France held its presidential and legislative elections. Elected in May 2012, President François Hollande is the first Socialist French president to be elected since François Mitterrand, who left office in 1995. Hollande’s election represents a major shift in France’s leadership, as the Socialist Party and the French left have swept into power across the executive and legislative branches in a series of historic electoral victories.

Your Guide to the French Elections 2012

Published: 2012

In spring 2012, six months before the highly anticipated American presidential elections, France will hold its presidential and legislative elections. With the euro zone experiencing a major crisis and Nicolas Sarkozy ending his first term as President of France in a challenging position, the upcoming election will be closely watched. This guide provides a brief overview of the French election and political systems. 

Housing, School Segregation and Intergenerational Inequality in the United States

Published: 2009

In this policy brief, Patricia Gándara and Gary Orfield argue that housing segregation is a fundamental mechanism of inequality in metropolitan societies and education is the central way that the inequality is transmitted to the next generation. Housing policy is often discussed in terms of its physical features, design, and healthy conditions, but stratification, inequality and denial of equal opportunity are primarily about location.

Equal Treatment in Employment: Learning from American Antidiscrimination Policies

Published: March 2009

With 40 years of experience in antidiscrimination law and affirmative action, the United States constitutes a major point of reference for French policy-makers. Whether perceived positively or negatively, the American example can certainly make a significant contribution to the French debate on how to best foster equal opportunity. Moreover, examining the American antidiscrimination framework is particularly timely as France has just adopted European-level directives that require developing tools for identifying and combating all forms of discrimination, especially indirect discrimination.

Your Guide to the French Government

Published: 2008

France, a founding member of the European Union, has a population of 62.8 million (including overseas territories) and is the sixth largest economy in the world. In spring 2007, a year before the highly anticipated American presidential elections, France held its presidential and legislative elections. Elected in May 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy represents a generational shift in France’s leadership. This French-American Foundation guide to the French government provides a brief overview of French institutions and the French political system.

French and U.S. Health Care: Shared Ideals and a Much-Needed Common Reform

Published: 2008

Popular stereotypes describe France as a land of socialized medicine. In reality, the French system is a mix of public and private care, just as in the United States. Moreover, the two nations share common ideals of patient choice, primacy of private-practice physicians, and rejection of rationing. Both countries face a similar challenge, as changes in economic structure and health technology mean that employment-linked health insurance is no longer the most efficient way to deliver care.

The Sarkozy Presidency in 2007

Published: 2008

In May of 2007, the French went to the polls and chose Nicolas Sarkozy, whose mandate represents a generational turning point in French leadership. In his first months in office, he has taken on an array of domestic reforms and appointed a skilled, diverse cabinet. His reorientation of French foreign policy augurs well for French-American relations; however, it is clear that he also envisions a leadership role for France within a stronger Europe.

Social Stereotypes: Implications for French Equity Law and Policy

Published: November 2008

While direct discrimination is usually understood as deliberate action expressing a conscious intent to discriminate, the reviewed research in this brief by Linda Hamilton Krieger demonstrates that discrimination can also result from the unintentional, unconscious application of gender, racial, ethnic and other stereotypes that people – even well intentioned ones – absorb from their cultural environment.

The Equality of Opportunity Program Initiative on Selective Higher Education: Study Tour, Report, and Conferences

Published: May 2008

In 2007, the French-American Foundation’s Equality of Opportunity program developed a major initiative focusing on education.  This project stemmed from a concern that applies to the educational systems in both countries:  the under-representation of students from racial-ethnic minorities or recent immigrant backgrounds in higher education institutions, particularly the most selective schools, called grandes écolesin France.

French and American Approaches to Antidiscrimination Law

Published: April 2008

Antidiscrimination law is one way in which democratic societies attempt to combat the social, economic, and political manifestations of racism. Although France and the United States share a commitment to the value of equality codified in their respective constitutions, the two countries’ legal frameworks for combating discrimination reflect each country’s particular history of racism. Today, racial prejudice manifests itself in increasingly complex ways, from intentional acts of defamation to structural barriers to economic well-being.

The Collection of Ethno-racial Statistics: Developments in the French Controversy

Published: February 2008

A 2007 amendment to France's immigration law would have made it easier for the state to collect ethnic and racial statistics for the French population. The measure met resistance from multiple quarters and was eventually held to be unconstitutional. As Daniel Sabbagh explains in this policy brief, this resistance illustrates the historical and legal differences between the United States and France regarding racial statistics.

The French Riots of 2005: Lessons and Policy Responses

Published: October 2007

In the fall of 2005, France experienced the most significant urban riots in contemporary history, with unrest beginning in Clichy-sous-Bois, a poor district on the outskirts of Paris, and spreading to some 300 neighborhoods across the country.

Sociologist Laurent Mucchielli, a specialist in issues of delinquency, violence, and security policy, held a talk at the Harvard Club of New York in October 2007 in an attempt to go beyond the headlines and place the riots in a larger historical and socio-economic context. This brief summarizes the topics of his discussion.

Equality of Opportunity in Education and Employment: French and American Perspectives

Published: March 2007

This comprehensive report of the French-American Foundation Equality of Opportunity Program’s activities was the first of its kind published. Written by Shanny Peer, then Director of the French-American Foundation, the report is primarily a comprehensive brief of the policy discussions held during the Inaugural Program Seminar held at NYU in November 2006.