After a collaborative project on the subject of foreign investment in Africa (Who is buying up Africa?), READi Design Lab and Terra Eco have now turned their attention to social inequalities in French towns. These issues, raised by Thibault Schepman, economic and political journalist at Terra Eco, are designed to raise student awareness of the methods and techniques associated with data-journalism. Coralie Sabin, Nadim Raad, Guillaume Faure and Rahman Kalfane, 5th year students in Tangible Interfaces, have been working on data representation and have produced a map showing social inequalities in France.
The map gives the location and the interpretation of the Gini coefficient for 600 towns in France. This index varies between 0 and 1 where 0 corresponds to perfect equality (everyone has the same level of income) and 1 corresponds to the most extreme inequality (a single household has all the income). The French average in 2010 stands at 0,299. The map provides a mosaic of the inequalities in France.
It is hardly surprising to see that the highest ranking town in terms of inequality is Neuilly-sur-Seine, a city which also happens to be amongst the richest in the country. “There are a lot of very rich but also some poor inhabitants, because of the maids’ rooms (les chambres de bonne). However, there are no middle class residents”, adds Guillaume Allègre, economist at the OFCE (a French economic research institute). As for the top cities in terms of equality, two are situated in Pays de la Loire (Couëron and La Chapelle-sur-Erdre). But beware of jumping to hasty conclusions! “The level of inequality does not depend on the level of wealth. There are both very poor towns and very rich towns in the top ranking towns for inequality”. Furthermore, “the most inegalitarian towns are not necessarily ghettos, and vice-versa. The map is used to establish a ranking of French towns in five categories based on the Gini index and on the median of the inhabitants’ income.