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New report: Life expectancy growing in France

Life expectancy in France is growing but “traditional” nuclear families are becoming less common, according to a new report by national statistics bureau Insee.

The 2019 report, published this week, is based on census data, and “allows us to understand the diverse and changing nature of the population of France”, according to bureau L'Institut National de la Statistique et des Études Économiques (Insee).

Four key trends emerged from the report.

Life expectancy is growing

Life expectancy in France for women is one of the highest in the EU; only Spain is ahead.

Women in France now live on average to age 85.6, and men to age 79.7, the report found. In the space of 10 years, men’s life expectancy in France has risen by two years, and women’s by 1.2; and over the past five years, there has been a rise of 0.5 and 0.2 years respectively.

Insee said: “Life expectancy continues to progress, but the gains have slowed down.”

In comparison, in 2017, average life expectancy in the EU was at 83.5 for women, and 78.3 for men. In Spain, this is was at 86.1 for women, the only country to be ahead of France.

Yet, life expectancy for men in France is slightly below the EU average. Nine countries are ahead.

“Traditional” families are becoming less common

Insee found that families made up of “a [married] couple, with children born from their union (or adopted together), all sharing the same home” were becoming less common.

It said: “Between 2011 and 2018, “traditional” families fell by -2 points, whereas single-parent families grew by 2 points. [In 2011] half of these families were “traditional”, with two married parents; in 2018, these types of families are no longer the majority.”

These families represent just 45% of the total, the report found.

It said: “Couples are less and less likely to be married (72% in 2011, 67% in 2018).”


Single-parent families more common

Four million children in France - 28% - now live with only one of their parents, Insee found. These children are more likely to live with their mother (82%) than father.

Around 72% of children (10.1 million) live with two parents at home, and of these, 95% live in a “traditional” family, and 5% in a blended family, such as with a step-parent.

Traditional families are more likely to live in the west and east of France, whereas single-parent families are more likely to be in the Mediterranean region, and on French overseas territories.

The birth rate is stabilising

According to Insee, 753,000 babies were born in France in 2019; with the birth rate now at 1.87 children per woman. While the rate dropped between 2015-2018, this has now stabilised, Insee said.

In 2017, France was the second-most fertile nation in the EU.

As of January 1, 2020, there were 67 million people living in France, up 0.3% over the course of 2019.

Insee said: “As in previous years, this change is mainly due to the natural balance (up by 141,000 people) between the number of births and deaths, even though this balance is currently at a historic low.”

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