100,000 families control the French economy, not 200

Families are the building blocks of the French economy. Photo by Martin Bangemann/Hemera / Getty Images

Families are the building blocks of the French economy. Photo by Martin Bangemann/Hemera / Getty Images

It is often said in France that 200 families control the economy. This has been challenged by a new book called Les 100,000 Familles, which argues that the number is far higher - and also calls for governments and society to do more to promote family businesses, as they drive economic growth.

Written by the French financier and business school professor Cyrille Chevrillon, the book, which is sub-titled Plaidoyer pour l'entreprise familiale or Advocacy for family business, says that 100,000 families own more than 80% of French companies and produce around 60% of the country’s GDP. And their ownership isn’t some conspiracy, but rather crucial for the health of the global economy.

Chevrillon, whose Paris-based investment business has holdings in a number of family businesses, reckons that the French government should be doing more to promote family firms and that society in general should take a more favourable view towards them. He cites a whole host a reasons why family businesses are often more virtuous than their non-family counterparts, including long-term vision, proximity to the local economy, greater freedom from financial markets, and speed of decision making.

He also says in the book that family businesses are the key to economic recovery in France, and that the ignorance and contempt towards them is in fact a big reason why growth isn’t happening. Politicians - are you listening?