Demographic report 2013: slightly lower natural surplus

Metropolitan France Sources : INSEE


According to INSEE, the French statistical office, the population of France on 1 January 2014 stood at 66.0 million, of which 63.9 million live in metropolitan France and 2.1 million in the overseas départements. The bottom half of the 2014 population pyramid for metropolitan France is remarkably vertical because it has been fuelled for the last 40 years by relatively stable annual numbers of births. This situation is the only one of its kind in the world, since the population pyramids of most developed countries-Germany, for example-now show very narrow bases.


Natural increase totalled 219,000 persons in metropolitan France (780,000 births minus 561,000 deaths), the rest of the growth being due to net migration (arrivals minus departures), estimated by INSEE at 50,000. Natural increase has been slowing from one year to the next; it was 20% higher five years ago in 2008 (264,000). There were slightly fewer births in 2013 than in 2012 (10,000 fewer). After reaching the high level of 2.02 children per woman in 2010, the fertility indicator fell slightly, to 1.97 in 2013. Life expectancy at birth has risen, reaching 78.7 years for men and 85.0 years for women in 2013, as against 78.5 and 84.9 years in 2012. The number of deaths increased slightly in 2013, however (2,000 more than in 2012), because the population has been ageing.

Net migration in France remains moderate at 0.8 per 1,000, a relatively low level for Europe: in the United Kingdom in 2012 it was nearly 3 per 1,000; 5 per 1,000 in Germany and Austria, 6 per 1,000 in Italy, 9 per 1,000 in Switzerland and 10 per 1,000 in Norway.

The natural surplus, which stood at 3.4 per 1,000 in 2013, should continue to slow in the coming years. The population pyramid already indicates the shape of future trends: the number of women of childbearing age will remain stable, and the number of births may do the same. Conversely, as the baby-boom generations grow old, the number of deaths will increase, eventually converging with the number of births. As for trends in net migration, they are by nature difficult to predict, but whatever the future level, even moderate, it is likely to overtake natural increase within a generation, if not sooner, becoming the main contributor to France’s demographic growth. This will not be due to particularly high immigrant fertility or a specific migration policy but will be instead the inevitable repercussion of the baby boom, as the large baby-boom generations reach old age and death.

Source: Gilles Pison (2014), 1914-2014 : A century of change in the French population pyramid, Population and Societies n° 509, Ined, March 2014
Contact: Gilles Pison
Online: March 2014