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French Government Budgets 1848-49

The French Government's Budgets for Fiscal Years 1848 and 1849

[Revised: 28 June, 2017]

Table of Contents

 

Introduction

These tables of data showing the French Government's revenue and expediture for 1848 and 1849 were constructed from several published sources. The bulk of the information comes from Alphonse Courtois' edition of "Le budget de 1849" which was published in the Annuaire de l'économie politique et de la statistique pour 1850 (Guillaumin, 1850). The 1849 Budget report lacks some details which are available in the 1848 Budget report so we have added these were necessary. Additional material comes from Charles Coquelin's article on the "Budget" in the DEP (1852) and the Dictionnaire des Finances, ed. Léon Say (1894). It was done to check the accuracy of Bastiat as an economic journalist when he was writing what became the collections of Economic Sophisms (1846, 1848) which appear in CW3 (2017). We found him to be very accurate and detailed in his use of economic data, even in the more popular press.

There are some discrepencies and differences in the way data was presented by the government during this period, but this is to be expected given the fact that the régime of King Louis Philippe was overthrown in February 1848 which resulted in some economic chaos as the Second Republic was being established during 1848 and while Louis Napoléon began exerting control as President after the election in December 1848. Most notably, revenue collection collapsed as a result of the economic downturn which followed the Revolution and the new demands on expendiute placed on the new government by socialist and other groups which had been ignored and excluded by the old régime. Because of his economic expertise Bastiat was voted by the Constituent Assembly (of which he was a member representing his homeland of Les Landes) to be the vice-president of the Finance Committee which reported to the Chamber on tax and spending matters.

The Budget Reconstruction first appeared as Appendix 4 in CW3, pp. 509-16. For more information about French taxation and other economic policies see Appendix 2: The French State and Politics, CW3, pp. 486-96; and Appendix 3: Economic Policy and Taxation, CW3, pp. 497-508.

Overview of the Growth of the French State in the 19th Century

To get the French Government Budget figures for 1848-49 in perspective we have to have some idea of how large the total French economy was at the time and what proportion of that went through the hands of the French state (central, departmental, and communal). Exact figures are hard to come by and most historians use the data collected by J.C. Toutain in his 1987 monograph "Le Produit Intérieur Brut de la France de 1789 à 1982" (revised slightly in 1990). We have supplemented that with additional data provided by Bonney in "The Apogee and Fall of the French Rentier Regime, 1801-1914" (2010).

These modern figures are comparable to the figures provided by the economists working in the 1840s from official government budget papers which we list below. I believe the discrepancies come from the fact that the economists were using budget figures for the central government and did not take into account local government and city tax collection such as the octroi tolls. What the modern figures provide which these older ones do not is some rough idea of how large the French economy was (GDP) and what the share of total output was provided by agriculture, industry, and other sectors (such as services).

In summary, total government expenditure at this time was about 1,287 million francs which constituted about 9.46% of French GDP (which was about 13,605 million francs). Of this total output, about 39% came from agriculture, 38% from industry, and 24% from other activities such as services. According to OECD figures for 2015 general government spending as a percentage of GDP for France was 56.6% and for the U.S. government 37.7%.

Over the course of the 19th century the share of the total economy of government expenditure ranged from a high of about 12% of GDP after the fall of Napoleon's Empire in 1815 and settled at between 9-10% for the next 50 years until it doubled after 1870 (to about 18%) as a result of the Paris Commune and the Franco-Prussian War. In the thirty year period between 1880 and 1914 government expenditure remained fairly steady at the higher rate of about 16-14% (it was falling slightly). Taking the 1850 level as a benchmark (1,200 m. or 9.4%) government expenditure had tripled to about 3,600 m. francs by 1894, and quadrupled to 4,800 m. by 1913/14 on the eve of the outbreak of the First World War. During the same period the population of France had increased from 36 m. in 1846 to 41.6 m. in 1914, or an increase of 15.5%. However, between 1850 and 1913/14 government spending had increased by 370%. Nevertheless, the overall burden of government spending on the French economy was reducing after 1900 as a spurt in economic growth (as measured by GDP) on the eve of WW1 was increasing much faster than both population growth and the growth in government expenditure. In terms of per capita government spending it was increased substantially from 35.3 francs per person in 1850-51 to 114.9 francs per person in 1910-11.

 

Bibliography

Alphonse Courtois, "Le budget de 1849" in Annuaire de l'économie politique et de la statistique pour 1850 par MM. Joseph Garnier. 7e année (Paris: Guillaumin, 1850), pp. 18-28.

Alphonse Courtois' edition of "Le budget de 1848" which was published in the Annuaire de l'économie politique et de la statistique pour 1848. 5e Année (Guillaumin, 1848), pp. 29-51.

A. Bernard, "Résumé des Budgets de la France de 1814 à 1847" in the Annuaire de l'économie politique et de la statistique pour 1849. 6e Année (Guillaumin, 1848), pp. 67-76.

Dictionnaire des Finances, publié sous la direction de M. Léon Say, par MM. Louis Foyot et A. Lanjalley (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1889, 1894). 2 vols. Tome I. -A-D. Tome II. -E-Z. See especially the article on "Budget général de l'État", section 13 "Monarchie de Juillet (1830-1848)", vol. 1, pp. 572-77, and section 14 "Seconde République (1848-1852), pp. 577-79.

Charles Coquelin, "Budget," DEP (1852), vol. 1, pp. 224-35. Coquelin provides information for the years 1850 and 1851 for France, and information about the budgets for Britain, USA, Austria, Prussia, and Belgium.

Richard Bonney, "The Apogee and Fall of the French Rentier Regime, 1801-1914," in Paying for the Liberal State: The Rise of Public Finance in Nineteenth-Century Europe, ed. José Luís Cardoso and Pedro Lains (Cambridge UP, 2010), pp. 81-102.

J.C. Toutain, Le Produit Intérieur Brut de la France de 1789 à 1982 (Paris: Institut des Sciences Mathématiques de Economiques Appliquées, 1987).

J.C. Toutain, "Le Produit Intérieur Brut de la France de 1789 à 1990," ISMEA, Histoire et Sociétés, histoire économique et quantitative, 1, no. 11, 1997, pp. 5-136 (Presses Universitaire de Grenoble).

Toutain Jean-Claude. "Comparaison entre les différentes évaluations du produit intérieur brut de la France de 1815 à 1938 ou L'histoire économique quantitative a-t-elle un sens?," Revue économique, volume 47, n°4, 1996. pp. 893-919.

"General Government Spending," OECD, 2016. <https://data.oecd.org/gga/general-government-spending.htm>.

Pie Charts summarizing the Data

French Government Revenue for 1849

French Government Expenditure for 1849

 

 


 

 

Budget Data Tables

Table 1. Summary of Expenditure and Income.

1848 1849
Expenditure 1,446,210,170 1,572,571,069
Income 1,391,276,510 1,411,732,007
Deficit 54,933,660 160,839,062

Data were taken from the following articles and corrected where necessary:
"Budget de 1848," Annuaire de l'Économie politique et de la statistique pour 1848, pp. 29–51.
"Budget de 1849," Annuaire de l'Économie politique et de la statistique pour 1850, pp. 18–28.
[Henceforth Annuaire de l'Économie politique et de la statistique = AEPS.]


Table 2. Summary of Expenditure.

1848 1849
I. Public Debt 384,346,191 455,143,796
II. Grants to Government Bodies 14,922,150 9,608,288
III. Ministerial Services* 731,335,104 882,057,325
IV. Administrative Costs** 156,892,495 155,265,320
V. Reimbursements, Subsidies 74,185,730 70,496,340
VI. Extraordinary Items 84,528,500  
Total 1,446,210,170 1,572,571,069

"Budget de 1848" in AEPS pour 1848, p. 41.
"Budget de 1849" in AEPS pour 1850, p. 18.

* See table 3.III and table 6.
** See table 8 for details.


Table 3. Details of Expenditure.

1848 1849
I. Public Debt 384,346,191 455,143,796
- Consolidated debt 291,287,951 300,789,006
- Other   63,795,490
- Loans for canals and other works 9,110,300  
- Floating debt interest   23,000,000
- Other interest payments 29,000,000 8,960,300
- For pensions 54,947,940 58,599,000
II. Grants to Nat. Assembly, Executive Office 14,922,150 9,608,288
- Civil List 13,300,000  
- Chamber of Peers 790,000  
- Chamber of Deputies 832,150  
- National Assembly   8,362,688
- Executive   1,245,600
III. Ministerial Services* 731,335,104 882,057,325
- Justice 26,739,095 26,460,230
- Religion 39,564,833 41,066,393
- Foreign Affairs 8,885,422 7,241,367
- Public Education 18,038,033 21,751,820
- Interior 116,564,738 128,951,534
- Agriculture and Commerce 14,384,500 17,385,823
- Public Works 110,922,050 157,746,633
- War 322,010,382 346,319,558
- Navy and Colonies 138,540,895 119,206,857
- Finance 17,753,136 15,927,110
- (Less supplemental expenditure from previous years) 82,067,980  
IV. Administrative Costs* 136,892,495 155,265,320
V. Reimbursements, Subsidies 74,185,730 70,496,340
VI. Extraordinary Items 84,528,500  
Total 1,426,210,170 1,572,571,069

"Budget de 1848" in AEPS pour 1848, p. 29–41.
"Budget de 1849" in AEPS pour 1850, pp. 18–23.

* See table 6 for more details.

 

Table 4. Summary of Revenue.

1848 1849
I. Direct Taxes* 420,669,956 426,040,014
II. Registrations, Stamp Duty, Public Property* 263,359,490 234,098,296
III. Forests and Fisheries* 38,395,700 27,072,100
IV. Customs, Salt Monopoly* 202,112,000 156,823,000
V. Indirect Taxes* 307,962,000 287,696,000
VI. Post Office* 51,738,000 49,876,000
VII. Diverse Revenue 47,053,466 42,869,234
VIII. Diverse Products 19,463,398 28,423,000
IX. Extraordinary Resources 20,298,500 158,834,363
(adjustment for discrepancy in totals) 20,224,000  
Total

1,391,276,510

1,411,732,007

The figures for 1848 were calculated by the editor.
"Budget de 1849" in AEPS pour 1850, p. 18.

* See table 5.

 

Table 5. Details of Revenue.

Source of Income 1848 1849
General Total Revenue (including debt reserve) 1,371,052,010 1,411,732,007
Total Income from Taxes and Charges (my calculation differs from that in the Annuaire by 20,224,000) 1,350,754,010  
I. Direct Taxes 420,669,956 426,040,014
- Land Tax 279,456,080 281,274,204
- Personal & Property Tax 59,313,060 60,113,740
- Door & Window Tax 34,796,826 35,655,470
- Trading Licenses 46,310,100 48,190,340
- Other Items 793,890 806,260
II. Registrations, Stamp Duty, Public Property 263,359,490 234,098,296
- Registrations, fees, levies 216,324,000 179,424,000
- Stamp duty 40,556,000 29,206,000
- Sale of land 3,282,300 3,091,316
- Sale of other property 2,123,500 2,236,500
- Other 1,073,690 911,480
- Additional stamp duty   19,229,000
III. Forests and Fishery 38,395,700 27,072,100
- Sale of wood 33,548,500 16,770,100
- Fishing rights 3,069,200 3,092,400
- Fees for forest administration 1,778,000 1,000,000
- Other   1,209,600
- Additional wood sales   5,000,000
IV. Customs, Salt Monopoly 202,112,000 156,823,000
- Import Duty 105,888,000 91,313,000
- Import Duty Colonial Sugar 38,458,000 35,000,000
- Import Duty Foreign Sugar 11,270,000 1,570,000
- Export duties 1,919,000 2,066,000
- Navigation rights 3,591,000 2,847,000
- Other duties 2,833,000 2,874,000
- Imported Salt Tax 38,153,000 21,153,000
V. Indirect Taxes 307,962,000 287,696,000
- Alcohol Tax 103,603,000 90,000,000
- Additional salt duties 13,346,000 4,657,000
- Domestic Sugar Tax 20,840,000 29,168,000
- Other duties 43,310,000 36,500,000
- Tobacco Sales 120,000,000 120,000,000
- Sale of gunpowder 6,863,000 7,371,000
VI. Post Office 51,738,000 49,876,000
- Letter Tax 46,542,000 44,829,000
- Money orders 673,000 1,000,000
- Fees for transporting gold and silver 214,000 210,000
- Mail coach fees 2,059,000 1,700,000
- Packet boat fees 1,096,000 1,102,000
- Foreign transit fees 1,108,000 1,000,000
- Other fees 46,000 35,000
VII. Diverse Revenue 47,053,466 42,869,234
VIII. Various Products from the Budget 19,463,398 28,423,000
IX. Extraordinary Resources 20,298,000 158,834,363
- Supplement 20,298,000 20,000,000
- Debt reserve   138,834,363

"Budget de 1848" in AEPS pour 1848, pp. 48–50.
"Budget de 1849" in AEPS pour 1850, p. 23–25.

 

Table 6. Details of Expenditure for Section III: Ministerial Services.

Ministry 1848 1849
I. Justice 26,739,095 26,460,230
II. Foreign Affairs 8,885,422 7,241,367
III. Public Education and Religion    
- Public Education 18,038,033 21,751,820
-- University   17,910,452
-- Sciences and Letters   3,343,676
-- Admin, etc.   497,692
- Religion 39,564,833 41,066,393
-- Catholic   38,917,983
-- Non-Catholic   1,389,584
-- Admin   229,295
-- In Algeria   529,531
IV. Interior 116,564,738 128,951,534
- a. [this section is not itemized in 1849 Budget but is in the 1848 Budget. See Table below for details.]    
V. Agriculture and Commerce 14,384,500 17,385,823
VI. Public Works 110,922,050 157,746,633
- Roads and Bridges   37,265,000
- Navigation   31,100,750
- Railways   74,788,750
- Admin   8,936,540
- Mines   40,000
- Civil Buildings   5,130,593
- Other   485,000
VII. War 322,010,382 346,319,558
VII. Navy and Colonies 138,540,895 119,206,857
- Navy   98,893,647
- Colonies   20,313,210
IX. Finance 17,765,136 15,927,110
(less roll-over funds from previous year) –82,079,980  
Total 731,335,104 882,057,325

"Budget de 1848" in AEPS pour 1848, pp. 30–39.
"Budget de 1849" in AEPS pour 1850, pp. 19–21.

 

Table 7. Expenditure by the Ministry of the Interior in 1848.

Ministry of the Interior 1848
Central Administration 1,328,000
Diverse Services (telegraph, National Guard) 2,278,500
Fine Arts 2,614,900
Welfare & Subsidies 3,440,500
Administration of the Departments 8,527,200
Prisons 7,200,000
Royal Court 565,548
Ordinary Departmental Expenditure 32,843,040
Optional Departmental Expenditure 13,131,710
Extraordinary & Special Departmental Expenditure 43,633,300
Other 1,002,040
Total 116,564,738

"Budget de 1848" in AEPS pour 1848, pp. 32–34.


Table 8. Details of Expenditure for Section IV: Costs of Administering and Collecting Taxes and Duties.

Item 1848 1849
I. Direct Taxes 17,323,210 17,018,362
II. Registrations, Stamp Duty, Public Property 11,344,700 11,359,100
III. Forests 5,433,500 6,673,900
IV. Customs 26,353,650 25,790,720
V. Indirect Taxes, Gunpowder, Tobacco 61,937,258 60,331,130
VI. Post Office 34,500,177 34,092,108
Total 156,892,495 155,265,320

"Budget de 1848" in AEPS pour 1848, pp. 39–40.
"Budget de 1849" in AEPS pour 1850, pp. 22–23.

 

Last modified July 01, 2017