Mortality in France (2010)

Continuously rising life expectancy at birth

The number of deaths in 2011 is provisionally estimated at 545,100 for France as a whole: 534,000 deaths in metropolitan France and 11,000 in the country’s overseas départements. The crude death rate comes to 8.5 per 1,000 inhabitants. For the country as a whole, life expectancy at birth in 2011 is estimated at 78.4 years for men and 85.0 years for women (78.5 and 85.0 in metropolitan France), a rise of five and four months, respectively, compared to 2010. The gap between the sexes is stable.

A high ranking for women compared to other EU countries; not as good for men

In 2010 (the most recent year for which comparative data are available), life expectancy at birth in France was within the average for EU countries, with no significant change since 2009. The country is near the top of the ranking for female life expectancy at birth (84.6), just behind Switzerland (84.8) and Spain (85.3). For men, France’s position has long been less favourable: life expectancy at birth was 78.0 years for the country as a whole in 2010.

Particularly low mortality at advanced ages

French women aged 65-80 have the lowest probability of dying of all women in that age group in EU countries, and this has been the case for more than 30 years. For men, France has been competing for top position with Sweden since 1987. France has also been at the top of the list of EU countries since 1986 for female life expectancy at age 80, and in competition with Spain for men since the same year.

A rising trend in life expectancy at all ages since 1980

From 1978 to 2008 mortality fell most sharply for the under-25 age group: the risk of dying between birth and 25 years of age fell from 33 per 1,000 to 12 per 1,000 for men and from 19 per 1,000 to 7per 1,000 for women, a 60% to 70% fall.
Despite major progress for under-25s, the mortality decline in this age group is having less and less impact on trends in life expectancy at birth because the risk of dying at these young ages has fallen to very low levels. Only 8% of the increase in life expectancy gained in the last period for men, and less than 6% for women, can be attributed to a fall in mortality below age 45. Conversely, 75% of the years gained by men and 85% of the years gained by women over the same period are due to progress made over 65 years of age, and primarily beyond age 80: the respective figures for men and women are 42% and 66% of the total years of life gained. These considerable proportions reflect the increasing weight of mortality at advanced ages in the overall trend.

The specific case of infant mortality in France

After 5 years in which the French infant mortality rate remained disturbingly stable, it seems to have started downward again in 2010, falling from 3.7 to 3.5 per 1,000 between 2009 and 2010, then to 3.4 per 1,000 in 2011, according to provisional INSEE figures. Despite a shift in the opposite direction during a part of the 2000s, the infant mortality rate is estimated to have fallen by one-fourth in ten years, while the extremely low level already reached in 2001 (4.5 per 1,000) suggested that the pace of decrease would slow.

Source: France Prioux et Magali Barbieri, 2012, Recent Demographic Developments in France: Relatively Low Mortality at Advanced Ages, Population-F, 67 (4)
Contact: Magali Barbieri
Online : May 2013