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2017 OECD Economic Surveys: France 2017

image of OECD Economic Surveys: France 2017

GDP is set to grow fairly strongly in 2017-18, supported by private consumption and investment. The labour market has started to improve. However, productivity gains are too low to sustain social protection, high-quality public services and rising incomes in the long run. Recent reforms have strengthened competition in some services sectors, but it remains weak in others. Along with high and complex taxes, this weighs on employment and productivity growth. Poverty is low overall. Yet, many youngsters and low-skilled workers are excluded from the labour market, especially when they live in poor neighbourhoods.  Health-care quality is high, but insufficient support for prevention, a lack of coordination among providers and generous coverage of expenditures for most households result in excessive use and spending. A long-term strategy is needed to reduce public expenditure without endangering social protection so as to allow lower taxes with sustainable public finances. Increasing the focus on infrastructure and education spending for the poor would improve equity. This Survey also makes recommendations to foster an inclusive development of skills and employment that will lead to stronger productivity growth and higher living standards.

SPECIAL FEATURES: POOR NEIGHBOURHOODS; HEALTH CARE

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Improving the efficiency of the health-care system

France’s health-care system offers high-quality care. Average health outcomes are good, public satisfaction with the health-care system is high, and average household out-of-pocket expenditures are low. As in other OECD countries, technology is expanding possibilities for life extension and quality, and spending is rising steadily, while an ageing population requires substantially more and different services. The main challenges are to promote prevention and cost-efficient behaviour by care providers, tackle the high spending on pharmaceuticals, strengthen the role of health insurers as purchasing agents and secure cost containment. Good-quality information and appropriate financing schemes would ensure stronger efficiency incentives. Disparities of coverage across social groups and health services suggest paying greater attention to co-ordination between statutory and complementary insurance provision. Ongoing reforms to improve prevention and co-ordination among care providers are steps in the right direction. However, progress in the development of capitation-based payment schemes, which can reduce the incentives to increase the number of medical acts and encourage health professionals to spend more time with their patients, and performance-based payment schemes in primary care need to be stepped up to respond to the increasing prevalence of chronic diseases and curb supplier-induced demand and social disparities in access to care.

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