Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle was a French army officer and statesman who led the Free French Forces against Nazi Germany in World War II, and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 1944 to 1946 in order to re-establish democracy in France. He also served as President of France.
Life: Born 22 November 1890, Lille; died 9th November 1970, Colombey-les-Deux Eglises, France.
Les Trente Glorieuses: As early as 1944 de Gaulle introduced a ‘dirigiste’ economic policy, which included substantial state-directed control over a capitalist economy, turning the state into an instrument of modernisation, creating a new technocratic elite, rationalising government, investing in infrastructure (The Economist: Bagehot–A certain idea of Britain: 15 August 2020, p.25). This 30 year period (1945-1975) of unprecedented growth following the end of the Second World War in France became known as Les Trente Glorieuses (‘the glorious thirty’). France’s economy grew rapidly like economies of other developed countries within the framework of the Marshall Plan such as West Germany, Italy and Japan. These decades of economic prosperity combined high productivity with high average wages and high consumption, and were also characterised by a highly developed system of social benefits. According to various studies, the real purchasing power of the average French worker’s salary went up by 170% between 1950 and 1975, while overall private consumption increased by 174% in the period 1950–74. The French standard of living, which had been damaged by both World Wars, became one of the world’s highest. The population also became far more urbanized; many rural départments experienced a population decline while the larger metropolitan areas grew considerably, especially that of Paris.
The Economist, ‘A form of hell’, 15th August, February 2020, p.25.