Natural increase in France remains one of the highest in the European Union, since the age structure of the population remains relatively favourable to births over deaths. Estimated net migration in France is relatively low compared with that in neighbouring countries, though the number of residence permits issued to aliens has increased considerably in recent years.
After a strong increase in 2000, the total fertility rate was unchanged in 2001 and 2002 (1.89 and 1.88 births per woman). The upturn between 1995 and 2001 is largely due to first births. The recovery of fertility at younger ages wasnot confirmed in 2002 and women aged 30 and over contributed most to fertility. However, completed cohort fertility declined rapidly after the 1960 cohort.
After increasing strongly in 2000, marriages declined slightly in 2001 and 2002. In a growing number of cases, at least one of the spouses is a foreign national. The popularity of the Civil Solidarity Pact (PACS) is still increasing rapidly from one cohort to the next, while the frequency of divorces is settling at around 38 divorces per 100 marriages.
Female life expectancy at birth (82.9 years in 2002) is increasing less rapidly than that of men (75.6 years) and the resulting trend to convergence can be expected to continue since excess male mortality, which is very high in France between ages 15 to 65, is declining slightly.