France has always been concerned about encouraging French women to have large families. Having been the battlefield for centuries for the wars with England, Prussia (Germany) and more, there has been a constant need for young soldiers.
Over the years, in order to boost the population, the government came up with free medical care, extended maternity leave, and of course the famous (and fully paid for) pelvic exercises after giving birth.
Famille Nombreuse – The Status
These days large families with 3 kids or more in France are officially recognized with the status famille nombreuse. With the status, there are tax credits, reductions on transport, and all sorts of other benefits that are offered by state and local French governments.
Large families can get anywhere from 30% to 75% on train and metro tickets in Paris. In addition, entrance fees into museums and other sightseeing attractions are also greatly reduced.
Workplaces and unions have also negotiated special employee benefits that larger families can benefit from, such as childcare subsidies, gift checks for Christmas, etc. Larger families and families of multiples also have a greater chance of getting a spot in public creche (nurseries).
And then there are the child allowances and tax credits. Along with housing allowances and child benefits paid to the family in cash, there are also tax credits for each additional child. It is impossible to quantify all the benefits because different ones are given by different government agencies and some of them are means-tested, while others are not.
Médaille de la Famille – The Medal
There is also a Medal given to families having at least 4 children. There used to be 3 classes of medals:
- bronze for those raising four or five children
- silver for parents of six or seven children
- gold for those with eight or more children.
Special recognition is given to exceptional cases, such as those who have lost a parent in the line of duty, adopted orphans, or a sibling who has adopted younger children upon the death of both parents. There is also a special clause for war widows with at least 3 children who were raising alone.
These days there is only one medal, the bronze status, and it can be given to anyone raising children who have French nationality. Only the children have to be French, not the parents, leaving the door open to those raising French children outside of France.
For the family to get the medal, the parents have to apply to the local Town Hall (Mairie) when the oldest has reached the age of 16. The Mairie will then investigate that the “children are brought up well”, and then decide whether or not to award the medal. They will review school records, medical records, the parents’ financial status, etc to evaluate living conditions and the family’s suitability.
Once approved, the families are invited to the Mairie to receive their medals. Certain large families are even invited to the Elysées Palace to receive their medals directly from the President of France.
All of this seems to be working: France has the highest birth rate across Europe at just under 2 children per woman. Vive la famille !
¹ Featured Image: Scott Murdoch
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