80% of births registered in 200 French towns

babies in nursing cots at a maternity unit
Just 500 towns and cities recorded 99.6% of the 784,000 births in France in 2016

More than 33,000 communes in France recorded no new arrivals in 2016, official figures reveal

Just 500 of the 35,900 communes in France were listed as the birthplace of almost all babies born in France in 2016, according to official figures.

The 500 towns and cities were the birthplace of 99.6% of the 784,000 babies welcomed to the world, the figures from national statistics body Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insee) reveal.

A total 80% of all births were recorded in 200 towns and cities. Paris topped the list, registering 42,000 births, followed by Toulouse (15,000), Marseille (14,000) and Lyon (10,000).

In total, 2,800 communes recorded a birth in 2016 - with 2,200 of them listing just one or two new arrivals. A total 33,100 communes registered no births.

Between 1975 and 2015, nearly two-thirds of maternity hospitals in France closed their doors. Today, there are 518 maternity units across the whole of the country, compared to 1,369 units 42 years ago.

The centralisation of maternity care in France meant that, last year, only three out of 10 babies were born in the commune in which their mothers live, though 90% were born in the same department.

Towns and cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants recorded 50% of all births in France in 2016, compared to 44% in 1975, while only 9% of babies were born in communes with less than 10,000 inhabitants. That figure was 15% in 1975.

Only 5,000 babies (0.6% of the total number of births) were delivered outside recognised care facilities, such as maternity units, but how many of those were planned home births was not recorded. Only 10% of these births took place without medical assistance.

In 2014, a campaign was launched to change French law so the home village or town of a baby is listed on their birth certificate, rather than that of the maternity unit in which they were born.

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