France 2012 : stable fertility, declining infant mortality

Population and Societies

498, March 2013

The recent demographic situation in France has two surprising features, analysed here by Gilles Pison. First, contrary to expectations, fertility remains stable despite the economic crisis. While fertility in mostindustrialized countries has been adversely affected by the downturn, France seems to have escaped this tendency. Second, mortality trends among newborn infants in recent years are not easy to discern. Whatare the reasons for this?
In most developed countries, fertility has declined in response to the economic crisis. France appears to be anexception, but without the crisis, the total fertility rate,which had been increasing for several years, would have continued its upward trend and exceeded 2 children per woman. Trends in infant mortality are difficult to interpret due to changes in birth registration practices. A solution to this problem would be to add the birth weight and gestational age on the birth certificate so that the viability of each birth can be gauged against the international criteria established by the WHO.

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