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Transformation of the French Demographic Landscape, 1806-1906

1997, 256 pages


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1 Introduction
1.1 Population Dynamics from Historical Data
1 1.2 Limiting the Study to the Female Gender
1.3 On the Tracks of Etienne Van de Walle
1.4 The Data -
1.5 Organization of the Book

I Reconstruction
2 Reconstruction Methods: A Brief Review
2.1 Reconstruction from Parish Registers
2.2 Reconstruction from Censuses and Vital Statistics
3 Book-keeping Coherence
3.1 Correction of Tables
3.2 Principles of Correction
3.3 Analysis of Errors
3.4 Book-keeping Coherence: Conclusion
4 Demographic Coherence of SGF Tables
4.1 Census Dates
4.2 First Treatment of the Poor Quality of the Censuses
4.3 First Correction of Vital Statistics
5 Reconstruction of the Population
5.1 Van de Walle's Method
5.2 A Dynamic Reconstruction of the French Population by Département, 1856-1906
5.3 Reconstruction of the Population from 1801 to 1856

II Results and Dynamics
6 Perspectives on France as a Whole
6.1 Population Size
6.2 Mortality and Fertility
6.3 Age Pyramids
6.4 Correcting Under-Registration Alters our View of the Transition
7 The French Transition of Fertility
7.1 Diffusion Effects in the Fertility Transition
8 Changing Mortality, Migration, and Populations
8.1 Mortality
8.2 Net Migration
8.3 Birth Under-Registration
8.4 Mean Age of Women
8.5 Population Growth Rates
8.6 The French Demographic Landscape: from Description to Systemic Analysis
9 Scope of the Transition
9.1 Principal Component Analysis for the Description of Multi- Dimensional Numerical Data
9.2 The Structured French Space
9.3 A Model of Transition
9.4 Inter-Related Trends: the Co-Integration Approach
10 Conclusion: The Feminine Population in the Nineteenth Century
10.1 Reconstructing and Correcting
10.2 A Spatio-Temporal Portrayal of the French Transition
10.3 Improving Local Conditions Starts the Decline, before Innovation Takes its Own Rhythm

A Some Other Examples of Smoothing Operations
B References of the Data
C Some Numerical Results


France was among the first countries to experience the so-called ’demographic transition’, when mortality and fertility declined and daily living conditions were deeply transformed. But the exact position traditionally assigned to France in the European fertility decline will have to be revised in the light of this study, which introduces new approaches and methods to the study of historical demography based on data for the eighty-nine départements of France during the nineteenth century.

Professor Bonneuil reconstitutes the patterns of internal migration, which, intertwined with the extension of urbanization and education, played an important role in the transition. The French demographic landscape does, indeed, reveal geographical contrasts in evolution. The question is whether people changed their habits by adapting to a changing economic, sanitary, and social environment, or, alternatively, whether behaviour was influenced primarily by changes in the perception of the role of offspring.

Historical data from France offer an exceptional analytical opportunity. The results of this study transcend geographical and historical borders and challenge our assumptions about the demographic response to changing environment.