Between 2014, when the capital had a population of 2.22 million people, and 2020 – when 2.14 million people called it home – an average of 12,400 people left the capital every year.
While the pandemic saw some people moving out of the cities in search of more living space, in Paris this trend pre-dated Covid-19 and has a more prosaic cause – a shortage of housing.
“In Paris, the population continues to decline, and has done so for nine years,” Insee said in its report. “These departures … are motivated in particular by the high cost of housing, the reduced supply of large housing for families and the search for another living environment.”
And it seems that although some people are moving to the country, or a cheaper city, the majority of Parisians are not moving far – instead they are hopping over the périphérique to the less-expensive suburbs.
The sharpest fall in inhabitants has been in the seventh arrondissement, where nearly 7,000 people, 12.6 percent of the population, have left.
“For years I have been asking the Paris City Council to create intermediate housing to allow families to stay in the VIIth,” arrondissement mayor Rachida Dati told Le Parisien. “Finally, I fear that the increase in property tax decided by the City will also accelerate the departure of those who owned their property.”
In comparison, the 18th arrondissement – one of the most heavily populated areas of the city – has lost more inhabitants, 8,000 but that equates to four percent of its population.
In the south of the city, the 14th arrondissement recorded a decline of 5.1 percent, while the fall was 2.5 percent in the 12th, 13th and 15th arrondissements.
Only two areas of the city have seen an increase in population. The ninth arrondissement has seen the number of inhabitants increase by 1.3 percent, while the population of the fourth – despite high property prices – has jumped 8.5 percent.
“Since 2001, we have been pursuing a strong policy aimed at creating living spaces for all social classes,” Ariel Weil, mayor of Paris Centre said. “These figures confirm our strategy. We pre-empt, buy administrative and office buildings to transform into social and intermediate housing.
“The primary objective is for families to stay. We still have room for improvement in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements, where there is a lack of housing.”
Insee said the reason for the decline was a shortage of affordable housing for families, with people increasingly moving beyond the périphérique in search of suitable accommodation. It predicted Paris’s population would dip below two million in the 2050s.
Outside Paris, the suburbs are seeing strong demographic growth, Insee’s figures showed, with Paris the only département in the greater Paris Île-de-Frace region to show a population drop.
Driven by population surges in Aubervilliers, Pantin, La Courneuve and Romainville, the department of Seine-Saint-Denis now has 1,655,422 inhabitants, making “the 93” the second most populous department of Île-de-France behind Paris.
Thanks to a strong birth rate, resident numbers in Seine-Saint-Denis increased 0.9 percent year on year over the same period in which Paris saw a 0.6 percent decline.
But the birth rate in the département has averaged 1.3 percent since 2014.
“What we see above all is the Parisian phenomenon: a whole population is driven out by speculation … while we see a rejuvenation of our population with young couples moving in and therefore a dynamic of class openings for example,” deputy urban planner for Montreuil Gaylord le Chequer told Le Parisien as he predicted growth was set to continue.
With 113,116 inhabitants, Saint-Denis is the most populous city in the area, with Montreuil (population: 111,367) enjoying stronger demographic growth of one percent compared to 0.4 percent, thanks in part to improving public transport connections to the capital.
A major expansion of the Metro system is putting more and more suburbs within easy commuting distance of central Paris.
Population growth in Ile-de-France towns and cities outside Paris is exploding. The population of Romainville jumped 22.8 percent between 2014 and 2020. In Aubervilliers, the number of inhabitants rose 11.4 percent over the same period. Resident number jumped 18.6 percent in L’Ile-Saint-Denis, 10.1 percent in Pantin, and 14.6 percent in La Courneuve.
But the increased population brings additional problems, with facilities struggling to keep pace. Romainville is building a new 18-classroom school to deal with educational requirements, while daycare provision has to be doubled.
The problem is financial. Government allocation is based on Insee’s data – which, by the time it is released, is three years out of date. The mayor of Romainville estimated the resulting shortfall in funding is up to €1 million a year.