Recent Demographic Developments in France

The demographic situation in France
By France Prioux, Jonathan Mandelbaum


Metropolitan France (mainland + Corsica) numbered 61 million inhabitants at 1 January 2006. The population grew at a rate of 5.6‰ in 2005, of which nearly three-quarters was due to natural increase. Since 2004, the rise in immigration from third countries has ceased. The total fertility rate (TFR) reached 1.92 children per woman, the second highest in Europe after Ireland. The increase in immigration has accounted for only one-third of France’s fertility growth since 1997. At the département (i.e. local) level, there is no relationship between changes in the proportion of foreigners and fertility. Despite this upturn in the TFR, the completed fertility of cohorts born after 1960 is gradually moving down towards 2 children per woman. While the number of civil unions (PACS) rose 50% in 2005, the number of marriages remained stable. In 2003 and 2004, divorces began rising again, and the total divorce rate is now close to 45%. The steep fall in mortality was confirmed in 2005, with life expectancy at birth reaching 76.8 years for men and 83.8 years for women. In 2004, the drop in mortality was particularly sharp for women aged over 65. Since 1990, male excess mortality has declined slightly in the 15-70 age group, but women have registered greater gains over age 70. The smallest gains have been around age 45, most notably for women between 40 and 55 years old.

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