France and its territories2015 Edition
This book of “Insee References” collection, France and its territories, offers a selection of key figures about regions, on their actual delimitations and on the next delimitations that will become effective on 1st January 2016.
The hierarchical order of cities in metropolitan France over thirty years: overall stability and reclassifications
Between 1982 and 2011, urban growth in metropolitan France, measured by the increase of the population in urban units, was 23%, in other words 9 million more inhabitants. This had the combined effect of extension of the area of cities and densification of population. On the one hand, this significant increase did not result in massive changes in the positions of cities in the urban hierarchy, which remained stable overall. Indeed, the absolute change in the population of cities was a first approximation, proportional to their size, which tended to reproduce the existing hierarchy. On the other hand, the possible reclassifications of position occurred more within a class of cities of similar size and were more frequent and significant in small cities. The distribution of all cities which “gain” or “lose” inhabitants overlaps quite well with the geography of growth in France (Atlantic Arc, Southern Mediterranean, the Rhone Valley, Ile de France) and that of France which is experiencing difficulties inherited from the regression of old industries (North, East, Centre). Beyond that, the explanation is to be found in the dynamics of employment offered in cities: this is the first factor behind the growth of their population. Another favourable factor for a city is to be located in the periphery of a large urban area and to benefit from its spillover effect. Finally, three-quarters of regional capitals have experienced strong population growth through this effect of metropolisation. The strong dominance of the Paris metropolitan area is slightly eroded due to a slightly lower growth in its population. However, the increased risk of poverty and social exclusion as a whole was lower in France than in Europe. Many European countries have been more affected by the crisis (Southern Europe, Ireland, Baltic countries, etc.).