Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER III: The Distribution of Industries in France - Socialistic Fallacies
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER III: The Distribution of Industries in France - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Distribution of Industries in France
Distribution of the active population—Heads of establishments—Distribution of industrial establishments according to the numbers employed—Number of workmen per establishment—Greater industries in France—Conclusion—Number of patents.
I have already, in my observations upon the distribution of industries in the United States, called attention to the importance to be attached to the method of counting establishments. The statistical results of the census of the population in France1 in 1901 confirm them.
The census of March 24th, 1901, indicates 19,700,000 persons as following some occupation, that is 50.7 per cent. of the total population of 38,961,900. In 1896 the proportion was only 49.3 per cent. The figures for persons of the male sex is 12,911,000 or 65 per cent. in 1901, as compared with 67 per cent. in 1896; and for females the figure is 6,805,000 or 35 per cent., as compared with 33 per cent. The return assumes that this difference arises from the fact that a number of census papers escaped verification in the census of 1896.
Taking the total figures we find the following result:—
The heads of establishments and independent workers would, therefore, number 8,996,900, and represent 45 per cent. of the total. But the figure of 10,655,800 clerks and workmen comprises persons who are included in section 7 (liberal professions) and class 9a (government, departmental, and commercial services). The President of the Republic, senators, deputies, prefects, heads of government offices, ambassadors, magistrates, etc., all go to swell the number of clerks and workmen which is brought into contrast with the number of heads of establishments. This figure includes instructors and teachers, some of whom claim to be simple wage-earners. However, their number cannot be brought into relation with that of the heads of establishments, because their relations are entirely with the State.
It is, therefore, incorrect to say that of 100 persons who followed some occupation at the date of the census, 26 are heads of establishments, 52 clerks or workmen, and 22 independent workers. The figure for the learned professions includes 400,000 persons. The number of independent workers is 36.54 per cent. A medical man, lawyer or artist falls within this category, but I see in the table dealing with the staff of various establishments, that the learned professions are represented by 246,800 persons, of whom 44,500 are heads of establishments, 167,000 are clerks, and 35,000 are workmen. These figures need some explanation. Now I find (vol. iv. p. 124) the following figures:—
Deducting these 1,697,300 individuals from the 10,655,800 workmen and clerks employed in agriculture and industry I find that they are reduced to 8,958,500, that is that they are 38,600 less numerous than the heads of establishments and independent workers. The proportion is destroyed, and instead of being in the minority, they form the majority. If we deduct from the 400,000 individuals belonging to the learned professions the 200,000 who are classed as clerks and workmen, we have a total, in round numbers, of 1,500,000, and we shall then have, on the side of clerks and workmen, 9,155,000, and on the side of heads of establishments and independent workers 9,158,000. We are, therefore, entitled to draw the conclusion that these two large classes are of equal size.
The table on page xix. (vol. iv.) gives the figure of 4,865,000 for heads of establishments; it is with this figure that the number of wage-earners and employees is properly to be compared in order to bring their relative numbers into account. There are not as many establishments as there are heads of establishments. But the economist and the politician require the exact figures for the two classes; they are 4,865,700 heads of establishments on the one hand, and 9,155,000 workmen and clerks on the other. There are, therefore, less than two workmen and clerks to one head of an establishment, the percentage being 65 of the latter to 35 of the former.
In 1896, 2,983,000 establishments were put down in which two or more individuals were working together. In 1901, this figure had been increased to 3,185,000. This would point to the opposite of a concentration of industries, but the report tells us that it proceeds from “new conditions of verification which permitted of the enumeration of a number of family establishments which were not registered in 1896.” Be it so. The report adds: “Leaving on one side establishments conducted solely by husband and wife, or by partners working without assistance, the import of the movement is reversed; the figure for establishments employing at least one workman is reduced to 2,256,000 in 1901, instead of 2,390,000 in 1896, but this decrease has regard to agricultural establishments. In 1896 a large number of children were included in dealing with these, which in 1901 were excluded from the census of the active population. In the industrial sphere, on the contrary, the number of establishments has increased.” But in the table on p. xix. the report disregards all such establishments as employ no outside labour at all. Now in the table on p. xvii., the number of heads of establishments has increased in agriculture as well as in industry:—
Accordingly, there is an increase in each of the three great classes in the number of heads of establishments. This is a phenomenon of diffusion and not of concentration.
The small establishments, which usually include only the members of a household, are too important a factor in production to allow of a clear conception of this phenomenon if they are disregarded, and I call attention here, as in the case of the American census, to the tendency on the part of public statistical departments to eliminate them. It is quite natural that they should do so, the labour involved being too great.
The table on page xix. only contains establishments which employ workmen. It shows a slight falling off in the number of agricultural establishments.
This movement is, therefore, the opposite of a movement towards concentration. The Report states that 573,000 establishments employed from 1 to 20 workmen and other employees in 1896, while for 1901 the figure is 594,000; the number of those employing from 21 to 100 has risen from 15,583 to 17,570, and the number of large establishments employing more than 100 workmen has risen by 600, having risen from 3,668 to 4,268. Out of 100,000 establishments there were more than 619 employing more than 100 workmen in 1896, and 693 in 1901. In trade, the movement is the same; the number of small businesses has increased from 231,000 to 246,000, the moderate businesses from 1953 to 2279, and the larger ones from 143 to 192. Out of 100,000 which employ clerks, 61 employed more than 100 in 1896 and 77 in 1901.
If the number of small establishments had decreased, one might have drawn conclusions in favour of the phenomenon of the concentration of industries in accordance with Marx' formula. But from the time that the number of small establishments, as well as of the greater ones, has been ascertained to increase, we cannot describe the phenomenon as a concentration, but must give it its correct description of a development of industries.
If we now enter into details, we find the following figures (p. 131) relating to agriculture:—
The number of heads of establishments has increased, while the number of independent workers has decreased. We must admit that a number of the latter class have passed into the former. This is the opposite of the constant absorption of the small proprietors by the proletariat which is one of the articles of faith of scientific socialism, so-called.
Volume iv. (p. 191) of the Statistical results of the Census of 1901 contains the figures of the distribution of industrial establishments (exclusive of the carrying trade). These figures were ascertained in the following manner. “The effective personnel of establishments employing more than 5,000 workmen was determined by direct returns. In other cases the number of workmen returned and the estimated numbers do not correspond exactly, the former being 3,606,000 and the latter 3,723,000; the revised total is 3,526,800.” The Report continues: “The figures could not be expected to correspond exactly. In point of fact, it was impossible to classify 3,000 industrial establishments; these are undoubtedly small ones, most probably employing altogether no more than 15,000 workmen.” The first assertion appears to me to be well founded, the second is not based upon any accurate data. “Furthermore,” the Report proceeds, “the figures for industries and for the carrying trade include a large number of common workmen and journeymen who have failed to disclose the establishment which employs them, a proportion of whom are no doubt at work in some industry.” It should be added that all workmen do not work continually in the same establishment. These figures have reference to continually varying phenomena, although they are obliged, from the nature of the case, to appear constant.
But the figure of 3,526,000 wage-earners is lower by 506,000 than the figure of 4,032,000 given in the table on p. 188, in which the figures are carried down to units. The table is preceded by a note which states that the number of workmen in 11,000 establishments is unknown, and it is added that the number of workmen in establishments employing more than 10 has only been obtained by a process of deduction. With these observations I subjoin the table on p. 191.
According to this estimate, 60 per cent. of the workmen are employed in the small or moderatesized industries, and 40 per cent. in the greater ones. In 1896 the percentage was only 36, a difference of 4 per cent. But this difference is insignificant, having regard to the uncertain character presented by these figures. Even if it were strictly accurate, or even greater, the fact remains that in the industrial sphere the number of heads of establishments is 813,000 in 1901, as against 715,000 in 1896. It has, therefore, increased.
On p. 187 we find a table, the figures in which are not identical with those supplied to the commission (pp. xviii. and xix.); I take those in the table because the following sentence is appended to it: “The average number of workmen per establishment has increased, and this is a primary indication of the concentration of the staff of the various establishments.” But what is the proportion?
Viewed in the light of percentages, the increase in the number of workmen, the primary indication of concentration, averages 30 per 100 establishments (360—330). The maximum increase is in the class of industry and the carrying trade (60 workmen per 100 establishments), while agriculture and the learned professions present the minimum figures (10 and 20 per cent. respectively).
On page 185 the occupations are sub-divided, and the figures of the average number of workmen and clerks per establishment employing more than 1 employee are classified as follows:—
We descend almost directly below 100:—
For the remaining industries the figure is 16 and under. There are, therefore, only five industrial sub-classes with more than 100 workmen per establishment. On p. 186 there is a list of industries showing the average number of workmen employed per establishment for the years 1896 and 1901. It is unfortunate that the number of establishments is not stated side by side with the number of workmen.
If the number of establishments has decreased between the two census, we may say that there has been a concentration. If their number has increased, there has been a development of industry.
As soon as we pass from these five industries we descend to a number of workmen less than 500. We find 18 with more than 200. There are 53 subclasses in all, with more than 100 workmen. Unfortunately, again, the same table does not state the number of establishments represented by them. We only know, from the next table (p. 187) that the number of industrial establishments with more than 100 workmen is distributed as follows:—
The number of all establishments has, therefore, increased, which is evidence, not of concentration, but of development of industry. We perceive at the same time how insignificant a part is played by the larger industries in France. The standard had to be raised to 10,000 in order to obtain the units for comparison, and these were not obtainable for establishments employing more than 2,000 workmen.
As regards small establishments with not more than one workman, these ought, in accordance with Marx' theory, to have disappeared, instead of which they increased from 290,800 to 318,300 or from 4,900 to 5,100 per 10,000. This demonstrates a movement precisely contrary to that of proletarisation. The development of the larger industries has not killed the spirit of enterprise and initiative of the workman who is able to start business on his own account.
In trade (as opposed to manufacturing industries) we find the same phenomenon:—
A table on p. 197 shows the number of wage-earners employed in the different classes of industries properly so-called, with the fraction of this number employed in the smaller establishments. The table only contains six industrial sub-classes in which the workmen employed in establishments with a staff of more than 100 are in the majority:—
This number amounts to 859,000 out of a total of 1,317,0001 workmen employed in establishments which employ more than 100 workmen, or 65 per cent. We see to how small a number of classes the greater industries, in which the majority of workmen are employed in establishments with more than 100 workmen, are limited.
A table on page 128 shows the relative importance of the various classes comprising the industrial population, per 10,000 heads of the active population. The proportion in the following industries is:—
These establishments, therefore, representing the admittedly greater industries in France, only include one fifth of the wage-earners, and their relative importance has diminished from 1896 to 1901, because there has been a decrease in the textile industries. But, if we eliminate these, we find the figures to be 784 for 1896, as against 869 for 1901, so that the number employed in these greater industries has only increased by 85 per 10,000, or less than 1 per cent., counting in the total of industries for less than one tenth, viz., 7.84 per cent.
This relative importance has a fictitious as well as a positive side, fictitious because the development of some of these industries, having been called forth by protection, is artificial; and positive, because not only have wants in general continued to develop, but because the metallurgical industry has received a considerable impetus by the Gilchrist method of treating ores, and the rubber industry by the development of the motor trade; and undertakings of these classes require large establishments and a numerous staff.
All the statistical results of the census of 1901 in France point, not to the phenomenon of concentration to be implied from a decrease in the number of industrial establishments, but to the phenomenon of the development and expansion of industry.
These results are confirmed by the number of patentees. In 1822 there were 955,000. Despite the calling in of patentees by which legislation has benefited minor patentees, the number was 1,660,000 in 1871, 1,862,000 in 1881, 2,005,000 in 1891, 2,154,000 in 1901, and 2,253,000 in 1906. The increase is gradual, but does not suffer any recoil, and the increase is not attributable to any large increase of population.
“Résultats statistiques du Reoensement de la population en France” (1901).
In the Table on p. 191 this figure is given as 1,396,000.