It can pay (a lot) to have twins in France

Expecting twins can be daunting - but in France it is also considered to be like ‘winning the jackpot’’ as state help and advantages are numerous.

13 December 2021

Having twins in France is considered by some to be like ''winning the jackpot'' due to the many aids Pic: The Faces / Shutterstock

By Samantha David

My neighbour has just had a shock. Three months pregnant, she had already had her first scan when she was taken to hospital with abdominal pains.

A second scan showed the reason: she is expecting twins.

A day of tests showed nothing amiss but, apparently, twins cause extra trouble even at that tender age.

What is extraordinary is the elevated healthcare offered to women expecting multiples. 

My neighbour says that the  minute the gynaecologist  realised she was expecting twins, he told her she would be seeing a lot more of him. 

It seems 8,000 sets of twins are born a year in France, and an expectant mother not only enjoys impressive healthcare in pregnancy, but extra benefits and time off work after.

She will have a scan every month with her gynaecologist – more often if one twin grows slower than the other – plus all the usual appointments and blood tests with the midwife.

Closer to the date, she will also have birth preparation classes with a choice of yoga or swimming pool exercises.

Her midwife has already put her in touch with local breastfeeding support groups. She also has access to mental health support to prepare for the task of raising two babies at once.

Once the children are born, there is more help. Her maternity leave will be 36 weeks instead of 16, and her prime de naissance will be approaching €1,900. Paris and some other departments also pay a prime de naissance multiples.

It does not stop there. Her employer apparently told her that as she already has a child, she has hit the jackpot because three children are considered a famille nombreuse, meaning the benefits come thick and fast.

There is financial aid to help families moving to a bigger house, and to help with cleaning.

You get cheaper train tickets (and not just when travelling with the family) and discounted entry to cultural, sporting and leisure centres, as well as museums. Twins also get priority for nursery place allocation.

The CAF (Caisse d’Allocations Familiales) subsidises a home help for up to 200 hours for twins’ parents, and thanks to their priority places at nursery, parents have the right to go back to work part-time. No wonder her workmates are saying she has hit the jackpot!

To anyone used to the Victorian attitudes around child benefits in the UK, all of this sounds miraculous. 

It might also explain why France has the highest fertility rate in the EU: 1.86 children per woman. (The average across the EU is 1.56 live births, and in the UK it was 1.63 in 2019.)

The financial encouragement to have a child comes from the assumption that society as a whole pays to bring a child up.

Parents are not left struggling to put shoes on their feet – they get help. Isn’t that wonderful? France collectively brings up her children.

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