The French birth rate has declined to such an extent that the birth-to-death ratio is now nearly equal, the lowest level seen since the Second World War.
The demographic colapse in the West has continued to grow France, with figures published by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) showing that in the first six months of the year, there were 24,000 fewer babies born compared to the same time period last year. In the first half of the year, 314,400 babies were born, compared to 338,000 in the first half of 2022, representing a seven per cent decline.
Perhaps most striking, the number of people who died during the same time period stood at 313,000, which nearly equals the number of births. A report from the French newspaper Le Monde noted that the birth-to-death ratio is now the lowest since World War II in the country.
According to Hervé Le Bras, a demographer and study director at the Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS), the fertility rate has been steadily declining since 2012. Le Bras told the paper that over the past decade, the average number of children born to mothers in France has fallen from 2.1 to 1.8 children in 2022.
He went on to warn that if the seven per cent decline witnessed in the first half of this year is continued to the end of 2023, the fertility rate could drop to 1.68 children per woman, the lowest since the mid-1990s.
— Insee (@InseeFr) July 27, 2023
Gilles Pison, a demographer at the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED), laid the blame for the declining demographics mostly on women delaying having children and at the same time having fewer children, overall.
“For several years, women have been entering maternity later,” he said, noting that the average age of a mother having her first child has increased from 24 in 1974 to 31 years old in 2022.
Pison went on to note while in previous years the sharp decline in women having children in their 20s was “compensated” by them having children in their 30s, yet he said that “this is no longer the case”.
“Women no longer only have their children later, they have less,” he stated.
This phenomenon has also been seen in the UK, with the majority of women remaining childless past their 30th birthday for the first time in recorded history in 2021.
French MEP Patricia Chagnon-Clevers blamed the declining birth rate on the political leadership in Paris, writing on social media: “The birth rate is falling because young couples lack confidence in the future. Today, with Macron, whole sections of society are collapsing.”
The National Rally (RN) politician said that such trends could be reversed should populist leader Marine Le Pen ascend to the Élysée Palace, at which point France could “regain control and release the energy and genius of our beautiful country!”