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France: High and stable fertility


  • Laurent Toulemon

    (Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED))

  • Ariane Pailhé

    (Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED))

  • Clémentine Rossier

    (Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED))


The current total fertility rate in France is around 1.9 children per woman. This is a relatively high level by current European standards and makes France an outlier, despite the fact that its other demographic trends, especially conjugal behaviour, and social and economic trends are not very different from other Western European countries. France can serve as a counterfactual test case for some of the hypotheses advanced to explain the current low level of fertility in most European countries (delay in fertility, decline in marriage, increased birth control, greater economic uncertainty). France’s fertility level can be partly explained by its active family policy introduced after the Second World War, and adapted in the 1980s to accommodate women’s entry into the labour force. This policy is the result of a battle, fuelled by pro-natalism, between the conservative supporters of family values and the promoters of state-supported individual equality. French family policy thus encompasses a wide range of measures based on varying ideological backgrounds, and it is difficult to classify in comparison to the more precisely focused family policies of other European welfare states. The active family policy seems to have created especially positive attitudes towards two- or three child families in France.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent Toulemon & Ariane Pailhé & Clémentine Rossier, 2008. "France: High and stable fertility," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 19(16), pages 503-556, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:dem:demres:v:19:y:2008:i:16

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Hippolyte D'Albis & Angela Greulich & Grégory Ponthière, 2015. "AVOIR UN ENFANT PLUS TARD Enjeux sociodémographiques du report des naissances," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-01298929, HAL.
    2. repec:dem:demres:v:38:y:2018:i:25 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Anne Salles & Clémentine Rossier & Sara Brachet, 2010. "Understanding the long term effects of family policies on fertility: The diffusion of different family models in France and Germany," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 22(34), pages 1057-1096, June.
    4. Christian Dustmann & Giovanni Facchini & Cora Signorotto, 2015. "Population, Migration, Ageing and Health: A Survey," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1518, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
    5. Thomas Baudin, 2012. "More on Religion and Fertility: The French Connection," Working Papers hal-00993310, HAL.
    6. doctorants Ined, 2015. "Actes de la Journée Doctorale de l’Ined - 2015," Working Papers 219, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED).
    7. Jessica Nisén & Pekka Martikainen & Karri Silventoinen & Mikko Myrskylä, 2014. "Age-specific fertility by educational level in the Finnish male cohort born 1940‒1950," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 31(5), pages 119-136, July.
    8. Inge Seiffge-Krenke & Roberta Molinar & Sylvia Ciariano & Palma Menna & Gregory Michel & Elsa Hoareau & Marion Kloep & Leo Hendry, 2010. "Competence in Coping with Future-Related Stress in Adolescents from France, Italy, Great Britain, and Germany," Journal of Happiness Studies, Springer, vol. 11(6), pages 703-720, December.
    9. Daniel Ciganda, 2015. "Unstable work histories and fertility in France," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(28), pages 843-876, April.
    10. Isabella Buber-Ennser & Ralina Panova & Jürgen Dorbritz, 2013. "Fertility Intentions Of University Graduates," Demográfia English Edition, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute, vol. 56(5), pages 5-34.
    11. Roberto Impicciatore, 2015. "The Transition to Adulthood of the Italian Second Generation in France," European Journal of Population, Springer;European Association for Population Studies, vol. 31(5), pages 529-560, December.
    12. Elizabeth Thomson & Maria Winkler-Dworak & Martin Spielauer & Alexia Prskawetz, 2012. "Union Instability as an Engine of Fertility? A Microsimulation Model for France," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(1), pages 175-195, February.
    13. Thomas Baudin, 2015. "Religion and fertility: The French connection," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 32(13), pages 397-420, February.
    14. Ariane Pailhé & Anne Solaz, 2012. "The influence of employment uncertainty on childbearing in France: A tempo or quantum effect?," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 26(1), pages 1-40, January.
    15. Joseph, Olivier & Pailhé, Ariane & Recotillet, Isabelle & Solaz, Anne, 2013. "The economic impact of taking short parental leave: Evaluation of a French reform," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(C), pages 63-75.
    16. Olivier Thevenon, 2009. "Does fertility respond to work and family reconciliation policies in France?," Working Papers hal-00424832, HAL.
    17. repec:hal:journl:hal-01298929 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Alícia Adserà & Ana Ferrer, 2016. "The Fertility of Married Immigrant Women to Canada," International Migration Review, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 475-505, June.
    19. Chmieliński, Paweł & Dudek, Michał & Karwat-Woźniak, Bożena & Wrzochalska, Agnieszka, 2012. "Spatial and social mobility of the rural population," Multiannual Program Reports 164843, Institute of Agricultural and Food Economics - National Research Institute (IAFE-NRI).
    20. repec:dem:demres:v:36:y:2017:i:45 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    childbearing; fertility; France;

    JEL classification:

    • J1 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General


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