Presentation of the population census

The population census provides an insight into the diversity of and trends in the French population. INSEE provides statistics on people and dwellings, their number and characteristics, with a breakdown by sex and age, by profession, by housing conditions, types of transport, commuting, etc.

INSEE and official statistics
Dernière mise à jour le : 16/09/2016

Figures every year, based on 5 years of surveys

The census is now based on annual information collection covering all municipal territories in succession over a five-year period. Municipalities of less than 10,000 habitants conduct a census survey of their whole population on the basis of one municipality in five each year. Municipalities of 10,000 inhabitants or more conduct a survey of a sample of addresses representing 8% of their dwellings.

By cumulating the five surveys, all inhabitants of municipalities of less than 10,000 inhabitants and about 40% of the population of municipalities of 10,000 inhabitants or more are taken into account. The information collected in this way is adjusted to a single given date for all municipalities to ensure that they are treated equally. This reference date is set to 1st January of the median year of the five years of the survey to obtain more robust data.

The first five census surveys were conducted from 2004 to 2008. From the end of 2008, it was therefore possible to prepare and then publish the full results of the census for 2006, the mid-date of the period. Each year since then, the census results have been produced taking the five most recent annual surveys, with the information from the oldest survey being dropped and the latest survey being taken into account.

Main and complementary processing

Like the former general censuses, statistical processing of the new population census is conducted in two phases : main processing and complementary processing.

Complementary processing provides additional results on professions and socioprofessional categories, economic sectors of activity and the family structure of households. For municipalities of less than 10,000 inhabitants, it concerns one-quarter of households. For municipalities of 10,000 inhabitants or more, the complementary processing covers all the forms collected from households, representing about 40%. For all municipalities, complementary processing also concerns one individual in four living in communities.

Previous census reference dates

To facilitate comparisons over time, some indicators are also proposed for previous censuses, the reference dates of which are the following :

  • 1999 : 8 March 1999 for Metropolitan France and Overseas Departments,
  • 1990 : 5 March 1990 for Metropolitan France and 15 March 1990 for Overseas Departments,
  • 1982 : 4 March 1982 for Metropolitan France and 9 March 1982 for Overseas Departments,
  • 1975 : 20 February 1975 for Metropolitan France and 16 October 1974 for Overseas Departments,
  • 1968 : 1st March 1968 for Metropolitan France and 16 October 1967 for Overseas Departments.