Academic journal article Population

Recent Demographic Trends in France: Fertility Remains Stable

Academic journal article Population

Recent Demographic Trends in France: Fertility Remains Stable

Article excerpt

I. General trends and population age structure

Slower natural increase

On 1 January 2013, the total population of France was estimated at 65.8 million, of which 63.7 million in metropolitan France (mainland France and Corsica). The island of Mayotte became a French département on 31 March 2011. Mayotte has an estimated population of 212,645 according to the latest census dated 21 August 2012 (a census is held in Mayotte every five years))30

In 2012, the population increased by an estimated 305,000, of which 290,000 in metropolitan France (Bellamy and Beaumel, 2013). As in previous years, natural increase accounts for the majority of overall growth. For metropolitan France, the total rate of increase in 2012 is estimated at 4.6 per 1,000(2) and the rate of natural increase at 3.6 per 1,000 (Appendix Table A.l),(3) down on 2011 (4.1 per 1,000) due to a slight dip in births(4) and an increase in deaths, which totalled 560,000 in metropolitan France, and 571,000 in the country as a whole (Beaumel and Bellamy, 2013b). As 2012 was a leap year, the annual totals cannot be compared directly with those of the previous year. On a daily basis, 1,530 deaths per day were registered in 2012 versus 1,465 in 2011, representing an increase of more than 4%.

Almost half the population is aged below 20 or above 60

The long-term stability of fertility and birth rates (almost 800,000 annual births, despite slight falls in 2011 and 2012) means that the base of the French population pyramid is still quite broad (Figure 1). While natural increase is still clearly positive, the ageing process is reflected in a rising number of annual deaths (Appendix Table A.l) as the population with the highest risks of dying grows larger.

The proportions of under-20s and over-60s are similar, and these two groups together represent almost half of the population (Appendix Table A.2). Ageing due to the relative increase in the older population (summit of the pyramid) will continue in coming decades as the baby-boom cohorts reach advanced ages (Chardon and Blanpain, 2010). The number of multi-generational families (children, parents, grandparents and great-grandparents) is increasing thanks to increased life expectancy. This trend will continue over the coming decades, and families will span an ever wider range of ages.

An intermediate position in Europe

According to Eurostat data, France occupies an intermediate position in the European Union in terms of population growth and ageing. In 2012, seven countries had a rate of increase greater than or equal to France:131 Finland (+4.7 per 1,000), Denmark (+5.1 per 1,000), Austria (+5.4 per 1,000), Sweden (+7.7 per 1,000), Belgium (+7.9 per 1,000), Malta (+8.8 per 1,000), and Fuxembourg (+23.0 per 1,000). Growth is negative in nine countries: Fatvia (-11.9 per 1,000), Fithuania (-10.6 per 1,000), Bulgaria (-6.2 per 1,000), Estonia (-6.2 per 1,000), Spain (-6.2 per 1,000), Portugal (-5.2 per 1,000), Hungary (-2.6 per 1,000), Romania (-2.4 per 1,000) and Poland (-0.1 per 1,000). Data for Greece, Italy and Cyprus are not available for 2012, but in 2011, growth was negative in Greece (-1.8 per 1,000), positive in Italy (+3.2 per 1,000) and positive in Cyprus (+26.2 per 1,000). The rate of natural increase in Europe is falling due to fertility decline, but negative net migration due to a rise in emigration during the recent economic crisis has also contributed to a lower overall increase. This is notably the case in the Baltic countries and in southern Europe.

Population ageing in France is slower than in countries which have experienced a rapid and dramatic fertility decline. This trend is clearly illustrated in the very narrow base of the European Union population pyramid (Prioux and Barbieri, 2012). The French population is ageing nonetheless: 9.1% of French residents were aged 75 or over on 1 January 2013, up 50% with respect to 1990 (Appendix Table A.2); and while half were below age 33 in 1960, the median age was 39. …

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