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Civil servants by public sector in France 2017

In 2016, more than 5 million people worked for France’s public services. It may be stated that France had a strong solidarity-based conception of society. Its national motto “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” (“liberty, equality, fraternity”) and its well-known welfare state have made France the Western European country with the largest public sector workforce. Since 2010, the compensation of public sector employees in France has gradually increased. It has reached 124.4 billion euros in 2017.

Civil servants in France

Ministries were the public area with the highest number of governmental employees in France. The public sector with the second highest number was local public services with almost 1.9 million civil servants. When looking at the distribution of the governmental employees in France in 2016, there is only a small difference between the number of public servants working in French ministries and local civil servants; in 2016 35.4 percent of French governmental employees worked in Ministries compared to 34.4 percent working in local civil services. We will most likely see further shifts in this distribution – the number of state civil service employees is declining since 2015 while the number of territorial civil servants stayed roughly the same since then.

French Public spending

In 2017, a study from the International Monetary Fund found that France was the member state of the European Union with the highest public spending ratio. Thus, France’s public spending increases again since 2011, after a sharp decline from 2010 to 2011, reaching more than 492.5 billion euros in 2017. In 2019, the top-three spending areas of the French state were tax repayments and abatement, education and defense.

Number of civil servants in France in 2017*, by public sector

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Release date

December 2018



Survey time period


Special properties

France excluding Mayotte

Supplementary notes

* provisional data

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