How should the diverse origins of people living in France be described?

Population and Societies

425, July 2006

An exploratory survey of employees’ and students’ perceptions

In a country with a long history of population mixing, defining criteria for identifying origins that are bothobjective and acceptable to everyone is a difficult
task. Though respondents do not oppose the principle of reporting family and individual geographicalorigins, many are ill at ease with the notion of "ethnoracial"classification.The survey also shows that respondents’ reported origin reflects a choice rather than an accurate descriptionof ascendants’ countries of birth and nationalities.
There is a close correspondence however between reported origin and ethno-racial category.Moreover, while in favour of collecting statistics on origins for scientific purposes, the respondents arewary of their inclusion in the personnel files of employers’ or administrations.

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