Several other bloggers have already mentioned the article in L'Express that Jennie posted that ranked all the departements in France based on several different criteria. Aisne, good ol' 02, my departement, came in at 95 out of 96. Ouch!
I've already written that Aisne has the highest illiteracy rate for the under 18 age group in France, so I guess I can't be too surprised that in everything else we rank pretty badly too, but is it really that bad here? I'll try to analyze by breaking down some of the individual rankings based on my own observations.
For health we came in 94th. We have high "surmortalite," or deaths linked to smoking, alcohol, violence or suicide. I doubt that the last two are terribly relevant here in Aisne, but check a big YES for smoking and alcohol. Among the people I've met with D there are only two others besides me who don't smoke (and soon that will include Ben, after he quits, which he says he's going to do by the time I get back). And alcohol... it isn't so much that everyone binge drinks all the time, but more that because alcohol is everywhere some people use it more than others, which creates bad situations.
We got a ranking of 92 for economic dynamism, meaning we have a population that isn't growing and we aren't adding any jobs either. Aisne is very rural with some factories thrown in for fun. The factories are closing, and farming isn't easy or that attractive to many young people (unemployment is 10% and our precarite ranking is 84). We don't have big tourist draws (even though there's some awesome stuff around here it just isn't advertised or popular to see), no big companies are employing people here, and....
We ranked 90 for Bac success rate and 63 for higher education, don't have a single grand ecole, and apparently can't read either. Uneducated people aren't a big draw for employers. Because it's rural means that we have fewer doctors than other departements too (86th) because they want to live somewhere fun just like everyone else (cultural offerings were 84th).
Weather is 88. It's cloudy and rainy. This doesn't bother me, but apparently other people are bothered by it. Whatever.
But the silver lining in all of our clouds (I crack myself up) is that, because no one wants to live here, housing is cheap! Yep, that's right, we rank 9th in housing costs. Don't you wish you lived here now?
On paper it all sounds so depressing, and yet I'm heading back there in the fall. I'm not saying I want to stay there my entire life, but there's so much more to the place you live than the employment numbers and weather and how many movie theaters we have. It's the people that make a place home. I've met wonderful people in the second worst departement in France, and that's why I'm going back.
Is it September 23rd yet? I need some clouds, rain, smokers, and unemployed people in an area with no doctors or movie theaters!