Senior Honors Projects, 2020-current

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation




Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Department of Economics


Robert N. Horn

Dorothée Polanz

Syed Hussain


High unemployment has been a persistent struggle for the French economy, especially over the last 30 years under presidents Mitterrand, Chirac, Sarkozy, Hollande, and now Macron. In recent years, this problem has particularly plagued young workers making them the “lost generation” of Europe. This paper studies the history of youth unemployment in France and assesses the impact of government policies and cultural norms on young workers. Additionally, it highlights the trade-off between workers’ rights and economic growth in an attempt to draw attention to the importance of culture and context in development.

The factors that have driven French structural youth unemployment, such as types of employment contracts, hiring and firing legislation, and structural mismatch in the labor market are identified through an in-depth analysis of the Code du Travail (French Labor Code). This paper also examines labor market reforms proposed and implemented by President Emmanuel Macron and evaluates their effectiveness in creating employment for young workers.

The last section discusses the social, cultural, and political challenges Macron has faced and will continue to face in his struggle to reduce youth unemployment, focusing on public reactions to his reforms and the importance of workers’ rights to French culture. It is concluded that his labor code reforms are not only an attempt to improve the economy, but also to change how French people think.



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