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Paris l’inféconde

La limitation des naissances en région parisienne
au XIXe siècle

Collection : Études et enquêtes historiques

2017, 240 pages


n° ISBN 978-2-73322-1072-7

23,00 € Buy

Preface  Jean-Pierre Bardet


Chapter 1. Using complex sources

Chapter 2. The population of the Paris region in the nineteenth century

Chapter 3. Paris, a pioneer in controlling births

Chapter 4. The decline of legitimate fertility

Chapter 5. The weight of births out of wedlock


Sources and references


The nineteenth century—of urbanization, industrialization and the demographic transition—marked a turning point for the population of France. Fertility began falling in the country as early as the mid-eighteenth century, making it a precursor in this emerging trend, but it was in the capital that births fell most. Urban development and Haussmann’s massive renovation programme, heavy immigration flows and socioeconomic transformations: the city’s response to the radical changes occurring throughout the century was a Malthusian position on fertility.

 At a number of different scales—quartier (neighbourhood) and arrondissement, Paris proper and immediately outlying towns—Sandra Brée measures and analyses not only legitimate but also “illegitimate” fertility, i.e., children born out of wedlock or in free unions, capturing city dwellers’ demographic behaviours in all their complexity, particularly as shaped by their social, marital and geographic situations.  

 This historical study thus reveals a fascinating demographic laboratory. Parisians’ contraceptive behaviours, strongly anticipatory, were nothing short of revolutionary. In this area, too, the capital asserted a will for emancipation early on.


Sandra Brée is a demographer-historian at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve and the Paris-Sorbonne Centre Roland Mousnier. Her main research subjects are trends in fertility, infertility and family size in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in France, as well as the demographic transition in urban contexts, marriage and divorce demography, and migration.

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