Academic journal article Population

Housing and Household Size in Local Population Dynamics: The Example of Paris

Academic journal article Population

Housing and Household Size in Local Population Dynamics: The Example of Paris

Article excerpt

As a general rule, population change in a country depends more on natural change than on migration. In other words, the difference between the numbers of births and deaths is generally higher than net migration(1). The population of a region, on the other hand, is often shaped more by migration than by births and deaths. This is even more true for the population of a locality such as Paris intra muros, where there are twice as many arrivals as births, and four and a half times more departures than deaths (Table 1).

At this local level, natural change and migration are closely linked -though this is not the case at national level-via the housing factor. A new birth may cause a family to move to a new locality; a dwelling left vacant by the death of its last occupant may be reoccupied by a household from another locality.

Generally speaking, dwellings-more specifically the number of dwellings and its variation over time-have a major, if not decisive, impact on local population size and population change wherever families and adult generations are no longer willing to cohabit, as is the case in Western countries. For this reason, such a population cannot generally increase unless the number of dwellings increases. Indeed, this increase is often necessary simply to maintain the status quo. Firstly, because the share of dwellings occupied by the residents in relation to the share of second residences and vacant dwellings may decrease. And secondly, because the number of people occupying each dwelling, i.e. the household size, may also decrease, as is the case throughout the Western world.

In this relationship between population and housing, the characteristics of the dwellings-primarily their size-are naturally of key importance. Dwelling size determines the size of households, but also their age-sex structure. Large dwellings are often occupied by families, i.e. adults and children of all ages, whereas small dwellings are occupied mainly by singles or couples without children, i.e. young or elderly adults. Another important characteristic is the tenure status of the household. Social housing tenants are often families, while private sector tenants, paying higher rents, are often singles.

These relationships between population and housing are especially evident in Paris, doubtless more so than in other French cities, and more so than in many other European capitals, since Paris has a number of very specific features (see Appendix).

Paris is almost entirely urbanized, so although the housing stock has increased substantially since the second World War, there is now little scope for further development, except through the construction of tower blocks, though this alternative has been practically ruled out(2). Many secondary and occasional residents are attracted to Paris, thereby reducing the number of dwellings occupied by permanent residents, and this reduction is further exacerbated by high vacancy rates.

So the size of Parisian households is decreasing, following the same trend as French and Western households in general, and for the same key reasons, namely the "couple crisis", with later couple formation and more frequent dissolutions, and population ageing. But the decrease in citycentre household size is also, and above all, due to the appeal of these districts for small households and singles in particular. This selection of small households is more pronounced in Paris than elsewhere because the city centre houses only a small proportion of the overall population of the agglomeration.

This centripetal movement of small households is also favoured by the fact that dwellings in Paris are smaller than in the rest of the agglomeration and, due to their scarcity, more expensive, so families are often excluded. In addition, a larger proportion of these dwellings are rented and therefore tend to attract young adults and young couples.

In this article(3) we will examine the relationships between population and housing in Paris intra muros over the last half century (more precisely since the 1954 census), a period in which the Parisian population has undergone unprecedented change. …

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