Recent Demographic Developments in France (2017)

On 1 January 2018, the population of France stood at 66.9 million. Population growth was the least it had been in 20 years, largely because natural increase was at a 40-year low. However, its age structure is one of the youngest in Europe.

Over 300,000 foreign nationals entered France in 2016. Foreigners arriving in France fall into two groups: those who are required to hold a residence permit and those who are not. The first group came to 218,354, mainly comprising families (49%) and students (26%). The inflow of asylum seekers has increased constantly since 2011 and reached 35,262 in 2016. Arrivals not needing a residence permit numbered 82,732, according to Eurostat; this figure has been falling since 2013.

Annual birth numbers fell for the third year running in 2017, with 769,500 births registered. This is because there are fewer women of childbearing age and fertility is falling. The fertility of young women, notably those aged 25–29, fell most sharply (in proportion). About two-thirds of births were to women in the 25–35 age group.

Birth numbers varied from month to month, with fewer in late winter and spring and more in summer and autumn. Daily birth numbers in 2017 fluctuated between a little under 1,700 and slightly over 2,300. More births take place on weekdays.

Births following recourse to assisted reproductive technology amounted to 3% of all births (about 26,000 births).

There was a slight increase in the number of induced abortions in 2017, to 216,700. The increase was mainly among women around 30 years of age. Abortion numbers were lowest in April, July, and August. This highlights the difficulty of obtaining abortion services during the summer, which is still a problem.

In 2016, registrations of heterosexual and same-sex unions reached a record low, while 3.3% of registered unions (civil or marriage) were same-sex unions. However, this drop does not mean that fewer people are forming partnerships: every year, the number of consensual unions is significantly greater than the number of marriages and civil unions put together.

The years 2015 and 2016 saw the end of a three-year drop in divorce numbers and divorce probabilities, regardless of how long the marriage had lasted.

In 2017, life expectancy at birth was provisionally estimated by INSEE at 79.4 (+0.1 years) for men and 85.2 (−0.1 years) for women relative to 2016. French women’s life expectancy is the highest in Europe, whereas for men it is about average. Over the past ten years, three age groups have made better progress than the rest: those around 20, 50, and 80 years of age. The progress was slightly greater for males, although they still have markedly higher mortality than females, especially among young adults.

Improvements in all major groups of medical causes of death have helped towards longer life expectancy, with the notable exceptions of mental disorders, nervous system diseases and, for women only, cancer. This worsening of female mortality from cancer is due to lack of progress in the treatment of uterine cancer and the rapid increase in lung cancer cases among women (the reverse of the trend among men).

Seasonal differences in mortality become sharper with age, being almost negligible in children and young adults and particularly marked from age 75 onwards. Older people are susceptible to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, which are more common in winter and lowest in the summer.

Source: Didier Breton, Magali Barbieri, Hippolyte d’Albis, Magali Mazuy, 2019, Recent Demographic Developments in France: Seasonal Patterns of Births, Deaths, Unions, and Migration, Population 2018-4.

Contacts: Didier Breton, Magali Barbieri, Hippolyte d’Albis, Magali Mazuy

Online: April 2019