Tag Archives: The French Paradox

The French Might Be Getting It Right

The pot’s boiling over in France, where people are in the streets protesting the move by their president to raise the nation’s minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. Doesn’t seem like such an unreasonable demand when compared to some other nations, like the United States, where the current full retirement age sits at 70. Unless, of course, you opt to take early retirement, which lowers the benefit amounts. In other words, you’ll receive lower payments in your “golden years.” But to the French, money, apparently, isn’t the only issue at issue. Apparently, the French see this as being a much larger lifestyle issue.

You might say the French, work to live, while those of us in the United States, the U.K., and elsewhere, live to work? And that, brings us to the so-called “French Paradox,” and what may be a central question in the current dispute that has all those people out in the streets of France.

Heart disease, continues to be the biggest killer of both women and men in the U.S. where we largely, “live to work.” However, in France, where I’m led to believe there is more of an attitude that one should “work to live,” that’s not the case. Consider the following regarding the so-called “French Paradox.”

“The French paradox is an apparently paradoxical epidemiological observation that French people have a relatively low incidence of coronary heartdisease (CHD), while having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats, [1] in apparent contradiction to the widely held belief that the high consumption of such fats is a risk factor for CHD” – Wikipedia

Yes, the French drink more red wine and walk more than we do. Nevertheless, the question must be asked: Are the French healthier because of their general attitude about work? Might we be better off if we followed their example with less as opposed to more work in our lives?

Taken logically, based upon the evidence, especially as regards the issue of stress, the answer would appear to be “yes.” That said, whatever your belief about the matter might be, it is a question we will all be forced to deal in the very near future as artificial intelligence gobbles up more and more of the work that used to require human hands and minds and corporations continue to barrel headlong into ever more cost-cutting layoffs, freeing us up to do and be what? Potentially healthier people who can’t afford adequate healthcare due to the absence of good paying jobs?

The ultimate paradox might deal less with heart disease and more with why, after so many years and so many lessons, our species, in so many ways, continues to be its own worst enemy, as marchers fill the streets of Paris, while in New York and in Los Angeles, thousands of writers, who have lost much of their income to streaming video, prepare to go out on strike. The cost-cutting thing works real well for a tiny percentage of shareholders at the top of the economic ladder, and not so well for millions of others who continue to be told, “If you rest, you rust!”

Think maybe the French know something we don’t?