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Why do we always talk about the money of precarious people?

Every end of August, unmistakable signals attest that summer is coming to an end: night falls earlier, Magic System is no longer on the radio, mojitos are replaced by cafes and we are subjected to the controversy as inevitable as sterile on the use of the back-to-school allowance. Controversy that revolves each year around the same fantasy: these precarious families would use the returned allowance to buy everything except school supplies. This time it was the Grandes Gueules de RMC which opened the ball to this “debate” through the intermediary of the gastronomic columnist Périco Legasse.

For the rapid debunk, the two most recent CAF surveys on the subject, in 2013 and 2002 respectively, did indeed attest that yes, the families benefiting from the back-to-school allowance use it overwhelmingly to buy school supplies. or pay some school fees like the canteen, and don’t take advantage of it to buy plasma TVs, Ferraris or a trip to the Maldives. If you ever doubted it. Evidence and facts that still question why we have to undergo this controversy at the beginning of each school year?

The ideal of a just world

The idea behind this premise is that precarious people do not know how to manage their money. For Sylvain Max, social psychologist and teacher-researcher at the University of Burgundy in economic psychology, “there is a belief bias in a just world, which means that people think that people deserve what happens to them. In this case, if people are insecure, it is because they cannot keep a budget or will incur unnecessary expenses. “Hence the fears of seeing the beneficiaries of the allocated allowance use it for something else and hence the multitude of comments thinking better to manage the budget of precarious people than the precarious people themselves.

This bias of the just world would also allow us to be reassured about ourselves: if we are well off, it is not because we were born into the right family with the right cultural capital or that our family tree is populated by doctors and doctors. engineers, but because we know how to manage our budget! “If the poor deserve to be poor, I too deserve my situation. It is a pleasant status quo for the ego ”, supports the psychologist.

No wave

Words validated by Louis Maurin, director of the Observatory of Inequalities: “Perhaps the people who take so long to comment on the money of precarious people do not take responsibility for their situation and their fortune, and want everyone to be responsible for what happens to him. “

This very practical premise avoids many questioning. If people are in precariousness because of their fault, it is not worth fighting for them, since in the end they only get what they deserve. On the contrary, if they do not deserve their situation, it results in an injustice for which we do not lift a finger. In short, “it’s reassuring to think that precarious people are responsible for their situation,” confirms Sylvain Max. Sleep soundly instead of opening your eyes, in short.

A fix on the precarious, really?

After these first paragraphs in vitriol, place for a little nuance. Without going into the cliché “The French have a problem with money”, it is not only the budget of precarious people that unties languages. Sylvain Max: “We constantly compare ourselves socially, whether to motivate ourselves or to reassure ourselves. Each budget serves as a comparison with ours, that of our parents, our friends, our colleagues … It is not only for precarious people that we believe that we would manage their money better than they, even s ‘there is undoubtedly a larger phenomenon with them. “

Regarding the allocated allowance, Louis Maurin recalls that despite the fact that we certainly hear a lot of fantasies on this subject, it remains public money: “So it is somewhere normal to demand accounts and to check what this money is used, just as we ask for results from the CICE, for example. “

The director of the Observatory of Inequalities brings a final nuance: what if this annual controversy was not widely shared? “If the words make so much talk, it is because many denounce them. I believe that there are actually a lot of people in favor of the allowance and the way it is currently used, and that this controversy is very fruitless ”. Maybe (and so much the better), but it will have done us good to empty our bag, until August 2022.


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