Stuck between notoriety and opportunity, Seine-Saint-Denis is not just a regular suburb. France’s poorest department will also host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games, and is home to the headquarters of major companies. Located in the Greater Paris area, and with a population of 1.7 million, this department walks the tightrope between decades of semi-successful public policies and real socio-economic assets.
Why is Seine-Saint-Denis, sitting right next to France’s capital, still facing such high barriers to employment and development? What is keeping its inhabitants from accessing the opportunities available to other French residents? And, most importantly, what are the solutions for the current and future inhabitants of Seine-Saint-Denis?
Seine-Saint-Denis was the second largest industrial area in Europe until the middle of the 20th century. In the 1970s, it underwent a period of rapid deindustrialisation, and its largely working class population has been struggling with unemployment and a lack of economic integration ever since. The French government has attempted to implement a series of policies in this department, which have yet to yield their best results.