Academic journal article Population

An Estimation of the Foreign-Origin Populations of France in 1999

Academic journal article Population

An Estimation of the Foreign-Origin Populations of France in 1999

Article excerpt

France has been a country of immigration for the last 150 years. The two strongest phases of this immigration were the inter-war years and after the Second World War. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century, immigrants were primarily Belgians and Italians, followed by Poles and Spaniards. France numbered nearly 500.000 Belgians in the census of 1886, while the number of Italians reached a peak (808,000) in 1931. ahead of Poles (508,000) and Spaniards (352,000). After the Second World War. migration flows from Spain and Italy experienced a fresh upsurge, at the same time as numbers of "French Muslims" ("Français musulmans") from Algeria came to work in metropolitan France following the granting of free movement in 1946. The latter were 331,000 strong on the eve of Algerian independence. The Italian population reached a second peak in 1962 (629,000 persons), while the Portuguese population reached its maximum in 1975 (759,000) and the Algerian population in 1982 (805,000). The migration streams underwent diversification in the 1960s and 1970s, when they spread to include the other Maghreb (North African) countries, Turkey and later many others (notably of sub-Saharan Africa). Some of these migration streams originated in newly independent former colonies (Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa). Independence was achieved in 1956 for Tunisia and Morocco, in 1960 for most of the countries of subSaharan Africa, and in 1962 for Algeria. The Algerian migration stream, however, which had started before independence, was unique in that maximum inflow occurred during the early years of the new Algerian state, in 1962-63, a few months after the end of the war.

The demographic effects on the population of France reflect the intensity and longstanding nature of these migration streams, factors which influence the formation of families of immigrant descent in France. Marital status at the time of entry and the speed at which family reunification (regroupement familial) occurred also account for the differences in the timing of this process. For men who were already married when they arrived or who returned to their country of origin to marry, no child would be born in France as long as the wives had not come to join their husbands. Family reunification migration occurred much later among migrants from North Africa and Turkey than among those from southern Europe. Some streams were active during the two great migratory waves of the last century and thus contributed heavily to the first and second generations born in France, which are present today. This is the case for migration from Italy and Spain. But the totals given for foreigners or immigrants in successive censuses do not reflect the true impact of migration currents on the demography of France. The children and grandchildren of immigrants quickly acquire French nationality, when they do not have it from birth, and thus disappear into the undifferentiated mass of French nationals born in France. Ironical as it may seem for a country with a long tradition of immigration, few demographers have attempted to estimate the demographic contribution of foreign immigration. Only two such attempts were made before 1945. In 1927, Alfred Sauvy estimated the number of "Frenchifications" ("francisations") that occurred between 1872 and 1927(1) at 1.2 million, representing one-half of France's population growth over this period. Fifteen years later, in 1942, Pierre Depoid attempted an exercise along similar lines, and used the numbers acquiring French nationality to estimate the number "Frenchified" ("Francises") between 1871 and 1940 at 2.9 million. He also gave an estimate of the children with one or both foreign parents (2.7 million). In 1945, he published another presentation of his results based on the assumption that the population of foreign origin is equal to all the people born to two foreign parents, to which he added half the persons with only one foreign parent (1.9 million). By adding to this the 2. …

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