Domestic Policy
France 1959-1968
the Economy
France 1949-1959
Domestic Policy
France 1949-1959
Intellectual Life

France 1949-1959 : the Economy

French colonial wars became an increasing burden. The war in INDOCHINA (-1954) was largely financed by the USA (c. 80 %) and largely fought by non-French troops (c. 55 %); yet France had to fight the war in ALGERIA (1954-1962) without significant foreign aid. French participation in the Anglo-French-Israeli attempt to secure the SUEZ CANAL (1956) also produced nothing but costs.
In continental Europe, based on an idea of Frenchman JEAN MONNET the European Commission for Steel and Coal (ECSC) was founded in 1951, Benelux, France, Italy and West Germany the members. Very successful, in 1957 it was rechristened European Economic Cummunity (EEC or Common Market), with a much widened field of activities. Now, trade barriers between member countries were abolished. Having gone through hunger periods twice and witnessing a discrepancy between the development of wages paid in the industry and the income of farmers, a program to extend agricultural production in Europe, and to, if necessary, subsidize it, was the agricultural policy of the EEC. France's agricultural sector was to become a major beneficiary of that policy.
Governments, in order to finance their projects, often ordered the BANQUE NATIONALE to print money, with the consequence that the Franc considerably lost in value.
France, regarding itself LA GRANDE NATION, having given cultural and political impulses to the remainder of Europe for centuries, felt an identity crises in the face of the omnipresent Anglo-American culture. In the early 1950es an attempt was made to protect French cultural identity by banning Coca Cola sales in France. The Citroen 2CV (ugly duckling) became a symbol for France's regained prosperity; ordinary men now could afford items such as motorbikes, cars, tvs. The French became passionate travellers and campers (paid vacation had been increased to three weeks in 1956). The STANDARD OF LIVING increased considerably during the 1950es, indicated by the rising number of Frenchmen who owned refrigerators, cars, TVs, who could afford a vacation.
Under the burden of a policy trying to hold on to a colonial empire which could not be held on to, the economic situation became worse and worse; frequent strikes did not help either. In 1959 the government resigned; a new constitution was passed, the FOURTH REPUBLIC succeeded by the FIFTH. A currency reform was implemented, the HARD FRANC introduced : 1 new Franc = 100 old Franc.

In a 1955 plebiscite, the population of the SAARLAND opted for reunification with the Federal Republic of Germany; the economic union of the Saarland with France was dissolved, the coal-rich region reintegrated into Germany in 1957.

Jean Monnet, a short biography, posted by
DOCUMENTS Discours de Schuman sur la creation de la CECA (Communaute europeenne du charbon et de l'acier), from cliotexte, CECA = ECSC, in French
Le mouvement ouvrier francais et les immigres apres la seconde guerre mondiale. Quelques documents, posted by AHI
REFERENCE Roger Price, A Concise History of France, Cambridge Concise Histories, 1993, pp.228-246
W. Scott Haine, The History of France, Greenwood Histories of Modern Nations, 2000, pp.172-186
Article : France, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1950 pp.300-303, 1951 pp.306-309, 1952 pp.298-301, 1953 pp.293-297, 1954 pp.292-296, 1955 pp.339-342, 1956 pp.277-280, 1957 pp.339-342, 1958 pp.274-278, 1959 pp.270-275, 1960 pp.271-274 [G]
Article : France, in : Funk & Wagnall's New Standard Encyclopedia Year Book 1952 pp.167-170 [G]
Article : France, in : Americana Annual 1957 pp.296-302 (on events of 1956) [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2001, last revised on March 30th 2007

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz