The concept of municipal population is defined by decree No. 2003-485, published in the Journal Officiel of June 8th 2003, concerning population censuses. Municipal population includes all persons having their primary residence (in the sense specified in the decree) within the confines of the municipality, in a private house or shared residence, including individuals incarcerated in penal institutions in the municipality, homeless people counted in the municipality and persons residing primarily in mobile accommodation which was within the territorial limits of the municipality at the time of the census.
The municipal population of a group of municipalities is equal to the sum of the municipal populations of these constituent municipalities.
The concept of municipal population is now the population measure most commonly used in statistical analysis. Its strength is that it carries no risk of double counting: every person living in France is counted once and once only. In 1999, it was the concept of a population measure without double counting which matched the notion of statistical population.
This concept differs on a number of points from that in force in the 1999 census: Municipal population (1999 population census).
The main changes concern:
1. Adult students who are boarders in an educational institution in the municipality but have their family residence in another municipality: they are now counted in the population of the municipality where they are doing their studies; in 1999, they were counted in the population of the municipality of their family residence;
2. Military personnel housed in a military establishment (barracks, quarters, base or military camp...) located in the municipality and having a personal residence in another municipality: they are now counted in the population of the municipality in which the military establishment is located; in 1999, they were counted in the population of the municipality of their personal residence.
3. Persons detained in a penitentiary in the municipality are now counted in the population of that municipality; in 1999, they were part of the population of the municipality that was counted separately.
4. Minor pupils and students having their family residence in the municipality and housed in a university hall of residence (or a student centre or accommodation) located in another municipality: they are now counted in the population of the municipality of their family residence. In 1999, they were counted in the population of the municipality where they were doing their studies.
Over the French population as a whole, the impact of these concept changes is small. Locally, however, their incidence can be significant, in particular for municipalities with boarding schools, military establishments or a penitentiary representing a large number of people in relation to the population of the municipality. Interpretation of any changes since 1999 must take account of this.