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Fewer births, more deaths sees lowest French growth rate since WWII

Denise looks on in her room on 20 November, 2018, at the Ages et Vie retirement home in Besancon, eastern France
Denise looks on in her room on 20 November, 2018, at the Ages et Vie retirement home in Besancon, eastern France AFP/Sébastien Bozon

The population of France surpassed 67 million as of 1 January 2020, but growth was limited due to a continuous decline in the birth rate for the past five years, according to a report released by the French National Institute for Statistics and Studies (INSEE).

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The report indicates that part of the reason is because females born during the post-World War II baby boom, which lasted until 1973 in France, are no longer in the 20-40 reproductive age bracket.

Last year, there were 6,000 fewer births (totaling 753,000) and 2,000 more deaths (612,000) compared to 2018, making a net increase of 141,000 people.

France’s fertility rate has been declining since 2015. The country is still considered the most fecund in Europe, according to the latest statistics in 2017, with 1.90 children per woman, but between 2006 and 2014, the average was 2 children per woman.

The report says that the fertility rate is now stabilising: 6,000 fewer births last year compares to 20,000 fewer in 2015.

Population growth in 2019 reflects the same analysis as previous years – there are more babies born than migrants coming to France.

And life expectancy is one of the highest in Europe, with 85.6 years for women, and 79.7 years for men. This, combined with the falling birth rate, means more than one out of five people in France is 65 or older.

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