2007 Demographic reportThe birth rate remains very high

Anne Pla, Demographic Studies and Surveys division, Insee

On 1st January, 2008, the population of metropolitan France and the overseas departments is estimated to have been 63.8 million inhabitants. Births again exceeded 800,000 in 2007 and the average age of women when they become mothers is increasing. Marriages continue to fall, while more and more people are opting for civil partnerships. The stability of the death rate means that the strong natural growth has been maintained. In the European Union, France is still top of the class for fertility and female life expectancy. It also stands out because of the high proportion of natural balance in the total population growth.

The population increased by 361,000 people in one year

In 2007, 816,500 births and 526,500 deaths were registered in metropolitan France and the overseas departments (table 1). This gave a natural balance of +290,000 for the year. Net migration was estimated at +70,000 in metropolitan France and +1,000 in the overseas departments. The population thus increased by 361,000 people in one year (+0.6 %). On 1st January, 2008 it was estimated to have been 63,753 million inhabitants, with 61,875 living in metropolitan France. On that date, the overseas collectivities (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Mayotte, Saint-Pierre-and-Miquelon and Wallis-and-Futuna) had approximately 720,000 inhabitants. The total population of the French territories therefore attained 64.5 million people. The high net natural increase, the second highest in the last 30 years after the 2006 level, did not stop the continuing aging of the population in metropolitan France and the overseas departments. The number of people in the population aged 60 and above has increased rapidly for two years as the large after-war baby-boom generation reaches this age (table 2). Thus there were 9 % more people aged 60 to 64 in 2007. The percentage of the population under age 20 decreased very slightly and dropped below the 25 % threshold for the first time. Nevertheless, the number of young people under age 20 has continued to rise since the start of the 2000s. On 1st January, 2007, France was still in second place among the most populated countries of the European Union at 27, behind Germany (82.3 million inhabitants) and ahead of the United Kingdom and Italy (60.9 and 59.1 million inhabitants respectively). The population of metropolitan France and the overseas departments is thus slightly less than 13 % of the population of the European Union.

Tableau 1 – Population dynamics

Population dynamics
Year Marriages Live births Deaths Natural balance Estimated migration balance Adjustment
2000 305.4 808.2 540.7 + 267.5 + 71 + 87
2001 295.9 804.1 541.2 + 262.9 + 87 + 86
2002 286.3 793.6 545.4 + 248.3 + 97 + 87
2003 282.9 793.9 562.6 + 231.3 + 102 + 87
2004 278.6 800.2 519.6 + 280.6 + 105 0
2005 283.2 807.8 538.2 + 269.6 + 92 0
2006 274.1 830.3 527.0 + 303.3 + 90 0
2007 (p) 266.5 816.5 526.5 + 290.0 + 71 0
  • (p) Provisional data. Field : France (metropolitan France and overseas departments).
  • Sources : Vital statistics and "Cities" survey, Insee.

Tableau 2 – Population by age group

Population by age group
Year Population on 1st january (in thousands) Proportion per 100
Under 20 20-59 years 60-64 years 65 years or over Ensemble Under 20 20-64 years 65 years or over
2000 15,643.5 32,565.5 2,765.7 9,563.2 60,538.0 25.8 58.4 15.8
2001 15,664.9 32,884.9 2,726.9 9,686.9 60,963.8 25.7 58.4 15.9
2002 15,679.7 33,243.6 2,661.4 9,814.6 61,399.3 25.5 58.5 16,0
2003 15,694.5 33,552.3 2,655.5 9,929.4 61,831.8 25.4 58.5 16.1
2004 15,753.1 33,784.4 2,688.3 10,025.9 62,251.8 25.3 58.6 16.1
2005 15,781.0 33,977.4 2,728.3 10,150.8 62,637.6 25.2 58.6 16.2
2006 15,805.7 34,167.0 2,804.1 10,222.0 62,998.8 25.1 58.7 16.2
2007 15,836.1 34,190.2 3,088.4 10,277.4 63,392.1 25.0 58.8 16.2
2008 (p) 15,852.6 34,156.4 3,360.3 10,383.8 63,753.1 24.9 58.8 16.3
  • (p) Provisional data.
  • Field : France (metropolitan France and overseas departments).
  • Sources : Vital statistics and "Cities" survey, Insee.

The number of births remains very high

In 2007, 783,500 births were registered in metropolitan France and 33,000 in the overseas departments. Despite a fallback compared to 2006, the number of births remains higher than it has been for the last 25 years. In 2007 the cyclical fertility indicator was 198 children per 100 women, slightly lower than in 2006 (table 3). But it remains very much higher than it was in the nineties. In many European countries the fertility rate, lower than in France, has also risen slightly since the start of the 2000s. This is especially true in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Greece, Spain and Italy. Some countries are an exception to this, such as Germany, where the fertility rate remains stable at an average of about 1.3 children per woman (132 children for every 100 women in 2006), or Portugal (135), where the fertility rate has fallen over recent years. Overall, the fertility rate is highest in Northern Europe, about 180 children for every 100 women, and lowest in Southern and Eastern Europe, approximately 140.

Tableau 3 – Fertility by age (per 100 women)

Fertility by age (per 100 women)
Year Cyclical fertility indicator1 Average age at birth2
Total 15-24 years 25-29 years 30-34 years 35 years or over
2000 189.3 33.3 66.6 58.4 31.0 29.3
2001 189.5 34.0 65.5 58.2 31.8 29.3
2002 188.0 33.0 64.8 58.1 32.1 29.4
2003 189.1 32.4 64.6 59.3 32.8 29.5
2004 191.6 32.7 64.7 60.4 33.8 29.6
2005 194.3 32.5 64.3 62.1 35.3 29.7
2006 200.4 33.1 65.4 64.6 37.3 29.7
2007 (p) 197.5 31.7 63.6 64.3 38.0 29.8
  • (p) Provisional data. (1) See Definitions. (2) Calculated on the basis of the fertility rates.
  • Sources : Vital statistics and "Cities" survey, Insee.

Births outside marriage are now in the majority

Like previous years, the number of women aged 20 to 40 has declined (-0.4 % with respect to 2006 and -0.3 % per year for 10 years). This age category accounts for 95 % of births. However, the number of births in metropolitan France and the overseas departments for mothers 35 years or older continues to rise : 172,650 in 2007, which is 2,300 more than in 2006. They also represent a growing percentage of all births and are now 21.1 % of all births (20.5 % the previous year and 15.5 % ten years earlier). The average age of women at motherhood is now almost 30 (chart 1), a rise of one year in 13 years. In Europe, the average age at motherhood is generally 30 or older in countries with a high fertility rate (Denmark, Sweden, Ireland and Finland). The United Kingdom is an exception to this : despite having a high fertility rate, the average age of mothers is lower there than elsewhere (29 years old). On average, by the end of their childbearing years women had given birth to more than 2 children. In 2007 the completed fertility rate for women born in 1957 was 2.14 per woman. At age 35 these women had already had 1.95 children. For women born ten years later, in 1967, this average number of children was not reached until age 40 (1.74 children at 35 years old). Today, women aged 35 (born in 1972) have had on average 1.68 children. Despite the delay in comparison to earlier generations, they should reach two children per women by the end of their fertile life. In 2006, the number of births outside marriage continued to rise : there was a clear increase over the previous year (50.5 % of all births against 48.4 %) and these births have become the majority for the first time. Ten years ago this proportion was no more than 40 %. The percentage of children born to mothers of foreign nationality rose during the last decade : 9.6 % in 1997, 12.6 % in 2006. In 2007, with provisional data, this proportion is estimated to be 12.4 %.

Graphique 1 – Fertility rate according to age reached by the mother during the year Number of children per 100 women of each age on 1st january

  • Field : Metropolitan France.
  • Sources : Vital statistics and "Cities" survey, Insee.

Marriages in decline

In 2000 there were more than 300,000 marriages in France. Since this peak, the number of marriages has fallen year by year : in 2007, 260,000 marriages were registered in metropolitan France and 6,500 in the overseas departments (table 4). First marriages are taking place later and later. The average age at first marriage has risen by 2 months compared to 2006, for both men and women. In scarcely five years it has increased by one year. In contrast, the average 2-year age gap between spouses remains very stable. In 2006 the proportion of mixed marriages, where one of the spouses is of foreign nationality, continued to decline : one marriage out of seven compared to one out of six in 2003, when it reached its highest level. But it was less than one out of ten in 1996. Couples where both spouses are of foreign nationality represented 3 % of marriages in 2006, a proportion that has been stable since 2003. There were fewer marriages between two unmarried people in 2006 (71 % of the whole) : like previous years, the number of first marriages as a proportion of all marriages is declining in favour of re-marriages.

Tableau 4 – Marriages by previous marital status and mean age at first marriage

Marriages by previous marital status and mean age at first marriage
Year marriage Total marriages Previous marital status Mean age at first marriage (1)
Single men Widowed or divorced men Single women Widowed ordivorced women Men Women
2000 305,385 248,776 56,609 252,205 53,180 30.2 28.1
2001 295,882 243,621 52,261 246,945 48,937 30.2 28.1
2002 286,320 234,237 52,083 237,250 49,070 30.4 28.3
2003 282,927 230,439 52,488 233,574 49,353 30.6 28.5
2004 278,602 224,769 53,833 227,996 50,606 30.9 28.8
2005 283,194 225,726 57,468 229,218 53,976 31.1 29.1
2006 274,084 217,865 56,219 221,032 53,052 31.3 29.3
2007 (p) 266,500
  • (p) Provisional data. (1) Calculated on the basis of the nuptiality rates. Field : France (metropolitan France and overseas departments).
  • Sources : Vital statistics and "Cities" survey, Insee.

Civil partnership rathe than marriage ?

Created in November 1999, civil solidarity pacts (PACS) are attracting more and more couples : in total more than 350,000 PACS have been declared since this date. More than 73,000 have already been entered into in the first three quarters of 2007, which is almost as many as the whole of 2006 (77,362). The increase is thus continuing at the same rate as the previous year (+25 % per year). The PACS dissolution rate remains the same as in 2006 : at the end of the third quarter of 2007, 13 % of the PACS signed since 1999 had been dissolved. The proportion of homosexual couples entering into PACS remains very low : from 25 % in 2002 it fell to 7 % in 2006. In 2007 90,000 PACS will have been entered into by heterosexual couples, the equivalent of one marriage out of three. Thus, the number of heterosexual couples united by a contract, whether a marriage or a civil partnership, has not fallen. On the contrary, it has regularly risen over the years since PACS were opened up to the whole society (chart 2).

Graphique 2 – Number of heterosexual couples united by a contract, whether a marriage or a civil partnership

  • Field : Metropolitan France.
  • Sources : Vital statistics and "Cities" survey, Insee.

Life expectancy increases by three months

In 2007, 526,500 people died in metropolitan France and the overseas departments. The number of deaths compared to the previous year remains stable, for both men and women. As in 2006, the life expectancy has risen : this increase is 3 months, for both men and women (table 5). Under actually observed mortality conditions for each age, a boy born in 2007 is expected to live 77.5 years and a girl 84.4 years, which is almost 7 years more. In 10 years life expectancy has risen by 3 years for men and 2 years for women. In 2006 France was ranked top among European Union countries in terms of female life expectancy : only French women can expect to live on average more than 84 years. The situation for men is slightly less favourable since their life expectancy at birth is almost at the level of the average for the old Europe of 15 countries. In 2006 the Swedes had the greatest longevity (78.8 years), ahead of the Dutch and the Italians. The life expectancy for French men is on a level with the Germans, Irish, Greeks and Austrians. In 2007 the infant mortality rate was 3.8 per 1000, like the previous two years. France occupies a middle position in Europe, where Finland and Sweden have a lower rate at 3 per 1000.

Tableau 5 – Life expectancy at various ages

Life expectancy at various ages
Year Males Females
0 year 1 year 20 years 40 years 60 years 0 year 1 year 20 years 40 years 60 years
2000 75.3 74.6 56.0 37.2 20.4 82.8 82.1 63.3 43.9 25.6
2001 75.4 74.8 56.2 37.4 20.6 82.9 82.2 63.5 44.0 25.7
2002 75.7 75.1 56.4 37.6 20.8 83.0 82.3 63.5 44.1 25.8
2003 75.8 75.2 56.5 37.6 20.8 82.9 82.2 63.4 43.9 25.6
2004 76.7 76.0 57.4 38.4 21.5 83.8 83.1 64.3 44.8 26.5
2005 76.7 76.0 57.4 38.4 21.5 83.7 83.0 64.2 44.7 26.3
2006 77.2 76.5 57.8 38.8 21.8 84.1 83.4 64.6 45.1 26.7
2007 (p) 77.5 76.8 58.1 39.1 22.0 84.4 83.7 64.8 45.3 26.9
  • (p) Provisional data. Field : France (metropolitan France and overseas departments).
  • Sources : Vital statistics and "Cities" survey. Insee.

Fall in net migration

In 2007 France’s net migration was estimated to be 71,000 people, a slight decline compared to previous years in which it hovered around 100,000 people (91,000 in 2006). This year it represented only one fifth of the total population growth, which is principally due to natural growth. In most European countries the situation is reversed : where there is a population growth, this is mainly due to migration.

Encadré

Enclosed article : Population estimations and annual census surveys

The demographic situation is the subject of annual estimations, which become final when the results of a new population census are available. With the implementation of the new census method, based on annual surveys spread over a five-year cycle, the demographic situation in 2007, like that of preceding years, will be established definitively when the results of the five annual surveys for 2004 to 2008 become known. The data already collected contribute to an initial estimation of these results. These have resulted in an upward revision of the estimations based on data from the last census in 1999 for population, net migration and the natural balance. An adjustment was therefore made, amounting to 436,000 and distributed uniformly over the years 1999 to 2003. The level of this adjustment has not been revised this year.

Sources

Vital statistics : For births, marriages, and deaths, INSEE carries out a statistical operation on the information transmitted by the Town Halls from their vital statistics registers. The totality of this information is not yet available for 2007. The number of events has been calculated by extrapolation, based on the number of events collected in a sampling of large towns for metropolitan France (the «Towns» («Villes») survey) and from partial vital statistics data for the overseas departments. These are therefore provisional figures. Since July 2007, the two islands of Saint Martin and Saint Bathélemy have become overseas collectivities and are no longer part of the department of Guadaloupe. Nevertheless, for the 2007 demographic report they are still included with the overseas departments. Net migration : INSEE estimates net migration, the difference between entries and exits from the national territory. In this area, administrative sources or statistics are rare. The French National Agency for the Reception of Foreigners and Migration («Agence nationale d’accueil des étrangers et des migrations» : ANAEM), the Ministry of the Interior and the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless People («Office français pour la protection des réfugiés et des apatrides» : OFPRA) have information on entries of nationals for countries outside the European Union. Exits of foreign nationals and movements French and European Union nationals are not systematically counted. INSEE takes this partial data and completes it by extrapolating from past trends, identified from censuses. European comparisons : Information is provided by Eurostat. Civil solidarity pacts : Information is provided by the Ministry of Justice.

Définitions

The cyclical fertility indicator is the sum of the fertility rates by age observed for a given year. This rate gives the number of children that a women could have given birth to throughout her whole life if the fertility rates observed for the year looked at for each age remain unchanged. It is sometimes expressed as the «number of children per 100 women».

The completed fertility rate is the average number of children born to a generation of women, not subject to death, throughout their childbearing years.

The life expectancy at birth is equal to the average length of life of a fictional generation that experiences throughout its life the age-specific mortality conditions of the year looked at.

The infant mortality rate is the ratio of the number of deaths for children under one year of age to the total number of live births.