TRUE OR FAKE. Do the richest 10% consume 10 times more fuel than the poorest 10%?

A discount in favor of the rich? Bruno Le Maire declared himself, on Saturday July 23, in favor of the State’s financing of a reduction in the price of gasoline by 30 centimes within the framework of amending the finance bill. but the appropriateness of this rebate intended to fight against inflation is debated. The issue: the consumption habits of the richest households where the drop in fuel prices “Enjoy a little more, because they drive more, usually in bigger cars”in the words of Eric Woerth, MP for the majority, in LCI.

On Twitter, the association Réseau Action Climat took to its calculator to calculate this excess consumption: “In France, the richest 10% consume 10 times more fuel than the poorest 10%”. But are environmental NGOs telling the truth or “fakes”?

“The richest consume up to 10 times more fuel, mainly because they have heavier vehicles, more SUVs, which are more expensive to buy, but also because they are less careful compared to fuel price”, justified Pierre Leflaive, transport manager of Réseau Action Climat, interviewed by franceinfo. On the contrary, “There is a whole segment of the population that is already good at its behavior, not necessarily for ecological reasons, but because of economic constraints, added the activist. For them, the explosion in fuel prices can lead to additional costs of up to 100 euros per month. It’s huge.”

To support his comments, Pierre Leflaive relied on a study published on March 22 by a Brussels NGO, Transport & Environment, which investigated. to assess the effectiveness of lowering the fuel tax in Europe.

Fuel expenditure for the first and last deciles of European countries in the euro (Transport & Environment)

The study on page 17 presents a table that shows the European country’s fuel spending in the first and last deciles for the year 2015, calculated from Eurostat data. In France, this amount rises to 129 euros per year for the first decile (that is 10% of the most modest households). And for the last decile (thus the 10% of the richest households), the expenditure is 1,231 euros a year, or in fact 10 times more. The prices however seem abnormally low: at 129 euros, the poorest motorists can only fill up about forty liters only 2.5 times a year, due to the diesel price of 2015, which is on average 1.20 euros.

Another problem: the conclusions of the Transport & Environment report do not correspond to the statistics available in France, pointed out the economist Marc Baudry, professor at the University of Paris Nanterre. “I can’t find this order of magnitude from 1 to 10 between rich households and average households, he told franceinfo. I based myself on an INSEE survey published in 2017 about household consumption. In this study cited by Marc Baudry, the 10% of the poorest households spent 628 euros per year on fuel in 2017 compared to 1,375 euros for the richest, at a time when a liter of diesel was sold for 1.40 euros.

The consumption of the double height among the richest French was also noted by Philippe Martin, member of the Economic Analysis Council, who published, Thursday, July 21, a note on the financial situation of households at the beginning of the energy crisis . “For the month of June, we have 100 euro fuel costs for the poorest and 200 euro for the richest” with a diesel price of 2.1 euros, the economist confirmed with franceinfo.

In summary, the economists in question do not confirm the order of magnitude put forward by the association Réseau Action Climat. On the other hand, they confirmed that the consumption gap between rich and low income households is significant. Accordingly, any reduction in fuel prices decided by the State will be “back and forth”warns the Economic Analysis Council, meaning that it will benefit first the richest, who will consume more fuel.

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