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Two children per woman in France in 2006: are immigrants to blame?

Population and Societies

432, March 2007

Fertility in France reached two children per woman in 2006, close to replacement level. Is this due to the foreign population, as is often claimed? Using new data from the 2004 and 2005 census waves, François Héran and Gilles Pison show otherwise. The impact of foreign women on the national fertility rate is modest (+0.1 children), despite rising fertility among recent arrivals. With or without immigration, French fertility is among the highest in Europe.

Foreign women account for 12% of births in France, and immigrant women, including naturalized French citizens, 15%. The fertility of foreign women is higher than that of French women (3.3 children versus 1.8 in 2004), but since only a small minority of the population is concerned, the effect on overall fertility is minimal. These extra births increased the fertility rate of metropolitan France by just 0.1 children in 2004, from 1.8 to 1.9. With or without immigration, French fertility is among the highest in Europe.

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