75m French People

At 75 million, France is projected to have the largest population in the EU (of current members) by 2050, according to French government figures. France’s baby-friendly policies, plus reasonably large immigration seems behind the projected increase (the country’s population is now just over 60 million). By contrast Germany’s population is set to fall to 72m, around 8m less than at present.

Edward has already looked at the prospects of an ageing society and indeed suggested that France’s better demographics might be behind its more (at least compared with Germany) energetic consumers. It should in time also help with the pensions problem as noted by the OECD.

Of course all demographic predictions over a long time period need to be taken with a pinch of salt (though not a large one, around half of the people alive in 2050 are alive today). My copy of John Gunther’s classic 1930s European-politics survey, “Inside Europe” states that a defining feature of the British socio-poiltical scene is “The decline in the birth rate, which, according to competent estimates, will reduce the population to thirty-three million by 1985”. In fact it was about 57m.

11 thoughts on “75m French People

  1. Yes, Matt, I think you are right to be skeptical about the projections: but whilst the magnitude of the French ‘exception culturelle’ may be up for some debate, the general direction of things is clear. Thanks for a timely post :).

  2. it will be a strange france that will result to this “reasonably large immigration”, visiting a classroom today is already disturbingly exotic :-(.

  3. A few more quick points.

    Freddy, if you want to look into it, Herv? Le Bras has an interesting book – Essai de Geometrie Sociale – which is quite informative on many demographically related social topics, including what might be termed the folk mythology associated with the idea of “la souche francaise”.


    Le Bras was I think the demographer at the UN responsible for the ‘replacement migration as a response to ageing’ conference.

    This view – that immigration is at least part of the answer to ageing – seems reflected in today’s speech by new Finance Minister Thierry Breton:

    In his first policy speech he said:

    “French people had to “work more, throughout their lives” in order to create growth, he said. France had to make an effort to achieve growth of more than 3.0 percent at least,” but was not yet there.

    The number of people aged 15 to 60 who were available for work would begin to fall for the first time ever. But growth in an economy based on services depended on an increase in the number of people in work. This was why the government was reflecting on the type of immigration that was needed”.


    Randy McDonald had a post last month on the French demogrphic projections:


  4. It’s not particularly a French thing though. France currently, and probably in the future, receives a lower proportion of its population increase from immigration than any other large EU state.

    In 2004 (the % i’ve done in my head so don’t shoot me if they’re a bit out)

    France + 305k in total, with 54k, or about 15% from immigration
    Germany -36k, with 78k from immigration.
    Italy +497k, with 523k, or 105% from immigration(!)
    UK +297k, with 115k, or about 40% from immigration.

  5. “receives a lower proportion of its population increase from immigration than any other large EU state.”

    Yes, but I think they may be about to try and change that. Have a real immigration policy. I don’t know, it is too early yet to say. I think the govt is convinced, but maybe the voters aren’t, and everyone, of course, is worried about Le Pen.

  6. But the fact is that France is the only big EU country with real natural growth (last year, it made 95% or so of the natural balance of the EU, soon the number will be meaningless because the other big countries already have a negative balance).

    That growth does NOT come especially from the immigrant population, whose birth rates is very similar to that of the “native” French, adjusted for age.

    Mortality is incredibly low. the 2003 heat wave surplus of deaths translated in a measurable drop in 2004; life expectancy has kept on increasing fast.

  7. I have just read that Chirac has given up his position of defending the French farm subsidies. I wonder what the French think of this man that has blundered repeatedly, this time costing his farmers about six billion euros.

    Do they still remove heads at Place de la Concorde?

  8. “Mortality is incredibly low” yes but remember fiscally this is a downside factor, since there are more dependent people to maintain for more years.

    The key issue is of course, as Thierry Breton noted, to lengthen the working life.

    “does NOT come especially from the immigrant population,”

    France has long (a couple of centuries of long) had a demography which is different from everyone else. Since the reduction in fertility has been long and slow there are less ‘boom/bust’ elements.

    Those countries most at risk of this latter type of ‘blowout’ structurally are those who make the transition from relatively high fertility (circa 3) to all time lows (circa 1.2) in a reproductive generation or less: Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, S Korea. My fear is that this will become the pattern among the newly developing countries. Near to home, Turkey may well become a case in point.

  9. Ray, where did Chirac blunder?

    In testing nukes, not going to Iraq, loosing the referendum?

    Edward, Iran

  10. UN population projections, 2002 Revision medium variant for 2050,are:- France 62 million; Germany 79 million.

  11. “UN population projections, 2002 Revision medium variant”

    Yes but I think the point is terry these are a revision upwards on that projection based on France’s own statistical agency (Ined) findings. Causes, longer life expectancy, and some recovery in fertility.

Comments are closed.