France's birthrate probably highest in Europe

16th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 16, 2007 (AFP) - France's birthrate has reached its highest level in 25 years, and is probably the highest in Europe, according to new census figures released on Tuesday.

PARIS, Jan 16, 2007 (AFP) - France's birthrate has reached its highest level in 25 years, and is probably the highest in Europe, according to new census figures released on Tuesday. 

With French women having on average two babies, France's rate "very probably" puts it ahead of Ireland, the EU birthrate champion with a fertility rate of 1.98 per woman, said chief statistician Jean-Michel Charpin.

"Births grew strongly in 2006, reaching the highest level since 1981," Charpin said as he presented the statistics.

A total of 830,900 children were born last year, a 2.9 percent increase over 2005, said Charpin, the director general of the INSEE national statistics institute.

France's overall population -- comprising mainland France and overseas territories -- totalled 63.4 million and swelled by 400,000 last year.

Three-quarters of France's population growth comes from births, with the rest from immigration.

France's surging fertility makes it a rarity in Europe, where the overall trend is towards lower birth rates.

A fertility rate of 2.07 children per woman is needed for generations to be replaced in developed countries, yet many European states record much lower rates. The EU average is 1.5 children per woman.

France's leap up the fertility table began in 1993, back when its birthrate was only 1.66 children per woman.

Each year since then, it has climbed slowly, though primarily from women who are having their babies older than before. Half the babies produced in 2006 came from women aged 30 and over.

The French census, which is conducted every year, also showed that the country's workforce was becoming more "feminised", with 47.5 percent of the active population made up of women.

The number of workers having at least a high school diploma has climbed eight points in the last six years, the study added.

Because post-war baby boomers are now hitting middle age, the number of workers aged over 55 represented one person in 10 of the active population.

Nevertheless, there was 3.3 million unemployed. That was half a million more than the jobless figure put out by the government, but the discrepancy had to do with the different ways job-seekers were counted by agencies and census-takers.

Those worst affected were the young, the unskilled and foreigners, INSEE said.

Finally, the census showed that life expectancy in France -- already one of the leading countries in the world for longevity -- was increasing. For men it now stood at 77.1 years, and for women 84 years.

Copyright: AFP

Subject: French News

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