IN NUMBERS: What you need to know about France’s population

IN NUMBERS: What you need to know about France’s population
Photo: AFP
How many people live in France, how long can they expect to live for and how many babies are they having? We crunch the numbers on France's population.

French national statistics institute Insee has published its annual report on the population of France and here's what you need to know.

Population grows slightly

At the beginning of 2020 the French population amounted to 67,064,000 people, according to Insee, very similar to the UK's population of 67.6 million but spread over a country approximately three times the size.

The numbers reflect a small growth of 0.3 percent, representing an extra 141,000 people compared to 2018.

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Birth rate up first time in four years

Like most European countries, the French fertility rate has been steadily declining in recent years. 

But the total of 753,000 babies born in France last year had the country’s birth rate grow for the first time in four years –  a tiny hike from an average of 1.87 babies per mother in 2018 to 1.88 in 2019.

In 2014 French women had on average 2 babies, while in 2016 the number was 1.92.

France – a country that was once proud of its high rate of making babies compared to the rest of Europe – remained the European Union's most fertile country, beating longtime rival Ireland and more recent competitor Sweden, according to Insee.  

As seen in previous years the birth rate was higher among women aged 25-34 compared to other age groups.

Women also give birth later in life, at 30.7 on average in 2019, compared to 30.6 last year and 29.3 twenty years ago.

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Photo: AFP

Number of deaths on the rise 

A total of 612,000 people in France died in 2019, 2,000 more than in 2018 (+0.4 percent). 

The French death rate has been growing over the past 10 years as the baby boomer generation passes on, according to Insee.

The research institute also counted last year’s February flu as a contributing factor to the relatively high death rate. Despite its short duration of eight weeks, the outbreak had a high mortality rate (although lower than the flu epidemic the year before), hitting older people the hardest.

Ageing population

France, like most developed countries, struggles with an increasingly ageing population. Insee stats show that just over one in five French people are older than 65 as of January 1st, 2020. In 2018 the number was 19.6 percent and twenty years ago it was down at 15.5 percent.

These demographic changes mean that fewer people of working age are supporting a growing army of pensioners.

The government says that its proposed pension reforms will make the country better equipped to handle its ageing population but a lot of French people disagree, which is why large parts of the transport system have been paralysed by strikes since December 5th. Read all our strike coverage here.


France is trying to figure out how to handle its increasingly ageing population. Here French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is visiting a nursing home in southwest France. Photo: AFP

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A six-year life expectancy gender gap

Women born in France were expected to live until they an average age of 85.6 years in 2019. For men the number was 79.7.

This represented a slight increase for both genders (+0.03 for women and +0.02 for men since 2018).

But the French gender gap for life expectancy is higher than other European countries, according to Insee.

Fewer marriages

The stats show the French are less and less inclined to get married, with 227,000 weddings taking place last year – 1,000 less than in 2018 and 8,000 less than the number for 2016. There were around 6,000 same sex marriages, roughly the same number as the previous year.

The number of civil partnerships in France grew from 196,000 in 2017 to 209,000 in 2018. Insee had not yet published the number for 2019.

Women in France marry at an age of 36.1 on average while men wait until they are 38.6.

Migrants

On the migration front, the country saw 46,000 more arrivals than departures last year – down from 69,000 last year.

You can read the full Insee report here.


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