The population of France grew by 360,000 last year, with the majority of births now happening outside of marriage. The study also showed that France continues to age, and that the population is drifting South. France now has the second largest population in Europe, with 63.8 million inhabitants, just behind Germany, and ahead of the United Kingdom (although it has a land mass over twice that of the UK). According to the French statistical agency INSEE, the population of France grew by 0.6% last year, with 816,000 births and 71,000 new immigrants, set against 526,000 deaths.
According to INSEE the average number of children per woman was 1.9, well above the European average of 1.5. France is one of the few countries in Europe where the increase in the population is occurring principally as a result of natural growth, rather than immigration. For the first time, more children were born outside of marriage, accounting for 50.5% of all births. Ten years ago the figure was 40% of children born outside of wedlock. Whilst the number of those getting married decreases, so civil partnerships continue to seduce an increasing number of couples. Around 400,000 couples are now in a civil partnership. The figures were sharply up in 2007 over 2006, in part no doubt to the change in inheritance law introduced by the Government granting the same tax status to both married and civil partnership couples. Nevertheless, despite the high number of births, the population continues to age. The number of persons aged 60-64 grew by a massive 9% in 2007, reflecting the arrival at this age of the post-war baby boomers. The number of people over 65 years now represents 16.4% of the population, against 14.6% in 1994. Those under 20 years of age now represent 24% of the population, down from 26.7% in 1994. Life expectancy continues to increase, and over the last ten years the life expectancy of men has increased by three years, whilst it has increased by two years for women. Men now have a life expectancy of 77.5 years, and women 84.4 years. French women now have the highest life expectancy in Europe, whilst French men do not fair quite so well, being within the top third in Europe. Swedish men have the longest life expectancy in Europe (78.8 years).
Languedoc-Roussillon has been the fastest growing region, with an increase of 1.3% in the population since 1999. It is closely followed by Midi-Pyrénées +1,1 %, Aquitaine and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur each on + 0,9 %. The national average is 0.64%. The Cote d’Azur, long time favourite destination, has begun to be eclipsed by the Montpelier-Bordeaux axis, passing through Toulouse. Indeed, Toulouse has seen one of the most spectacular population growths throughout France, with an increase of around 50,000 people over the past 7 years. Contrary to popular belief, most of the new migrants to the area are not retired persons, but those between 30-59 years, many of whom who have relocated in search of employment and a better lifestyle.