Demography Of France Essay Research Paper France

Demography Of France Essay, Research Paper

France being the twenty-first most populated country in the world, holds approximately 58.7 million people on the 547,030 sq km land which is slightly less than twice the size of Colorado (Demographic Information About France; There are 12 births per 1,000 population and 9 deaths (Demographic Indicators; France’s rate of natural increase and rate of growth is .3% according to the census. Life expectancy at birth is 78.5 years and the fertility rate per woman is 1.6. Due to France’s flat plains and owning a large country with 33% arable, fertile land, France is almost self-sufficient within it’s agricultural department (Union 98). France is a major exporter of wheat and dairy products helping the economy to expand by 2.3% in 1997(Union 98). The labor force is a total of 25.5 million but despite being a trillion-dollar economy, a high unemployment rate of 12.4 continues to frustrate the economy (Union 98). However, the government recognizes this problem and continues to find new ways to lower this high rate. France’s renound rich vinyards continue to contibute to this economy (Aldrich 84).

Industrialization, war, and reconstruction had the most powerful effects on French economy, population and government. We can trace the roots of these factors back to these determinant transitional eras.

With the industrialization period to start off France’s beginning to the rise in competition and power, the French economy experienced slow but constant growth throughout the nineteenth century due to manufacturing (Noble 98). As France had been the dominant power in the eighteenth century, Britain dominated the ninteenth due to outbreaks and earlier revolutions in France. As mentioned earler, the wealth created by agriculture in France allowed for investment in industry and for money to use on infastructure such as roads and canals, useful to industry. The new crops and the more efficient cultivation allowed the land to feed a growing population. The growth was mostly due to a lowering of the death rate (Nobel 98). In France, national mortality rates were around 22 per thousand, but in cities the rate was as high as 35 per thousand (Noble 26). Better employment opportunities led to earlier marriages and thus higher fertility (Noble 98). Contributing a new rising class of people, cities grew dramatically as urbanization took it’s course. Infant mortality had been very high from diseases such as smallpox (Noble 98).

Geography has a big role for variations in population. As the importance and emphasis of the economy grew due to agriculture, subsistence farming decreased and the population on the rural side moved to the cities (Aldrich 25). Peasants from the countryside moved to cities like Lyon for work (Aldrich 84). Lyon was the first industrial area in France and remained the center of French industry until mid 1900’s, due in part to the Rhone river and a tradition of a superior banking system (Aldrich 84).

Due in part the pressures of a more capitalistic and democratic France, from 1850-1913 there was a huge flood of people moving west to France. Especially Italians, cultures looked to find work, and in the process making France one of the number 1 receiving countries of the time, helping to prove trends of “East to West” movement (weeks 1998). (see figure below)

Indusrty has always been important in determining the world standards of an economy. Idustrialization in the 17 and 1800’s set the standards for who was to be the most powerful country in Europe and it’s colonies. France’s main industries today are steel, chemicals, machinery, aircraft, electronics, mining, textiles, tourism and food processing, clearly showing it’s importance and domintaion over smaller countries (Union 1998).

France has a reputation of slow growth. In the 1700’s the population changed slowly compared to other European countries at that time. While England and Whales increased it’s population times 6, France did not even double (Aldrich 24). Also, birth, marriage and death rates had little change (Aldrich 24). With internal migration to the cities in search of work due to urbanization, population increased slowly, but hit a serious halt by the time of World War II due to low birth rates while the men were at war. This war demonstrates how detrimental major wars are on population, not to mention the casualties of 350,000 (Noble1058). The birth rate decreased from 17.9 to 9.5 per thousand (Clark 95). Production had declined to about 20% (Noble 1079). The war torn countries also caused people to flee causing a massive population increase in North America. (See figure below)

Assisstance from America and a new Republic helped to rebuild France’s economy resulting in a remarkable recovery to modernize the country after the war. An economic growth rate of 4.9% was eventually encouraged by increased availibility of jobs and new trade unions (Noble 1080). The population in metropolis areas doubled once again, to mark a new wave of the 2nd industrial movement. Representing the repeated pattern of slow population growth, the baby boom in France did not have as much impact as in other countries. Though not comparable to the rest of the world, France’s population increase in the baby boom era after the war, increased the need for better schools. The rate at which children entered univeristies increased times five after the war and was partly encouraged by demands for reform of higher education (Noble 1117).

The pace of postwar immigration was uneven, but the most important. Immigration started out slowly in the period between 1946 and 1954, increasing more in the 50’s and accelerating during the 60’s and 70’s. In 1966, immigrants stood for only 5% of the population. In 1968, the net foreign migration level reached 30% (Ogden 50). These facts reinforce how the prospering economy stimulated these immigrants and eventually decreasing the need for a growing population. The Italians, Spanish and Portugese accounted for the dominance of all immigration groups (Ogden 49).(see figure below).

Having many economic opportunities, industrial Paris, Lyon, and Marseille were the most attractive areas for immigrants and still are today with a total of 57.5% immigrant occupants (Ogden 54). Paris today is the most populated city in France with 2,152,423(Ogden 13).

Immigration can be both negative and poistive although France has always had a need to stimulate the economy with a growing population with the help of these immigrants supporting France’s trend of small population growth. Because of this need for a growing population, immigration, until very recently, has never been considered a problem worthy of the historians’ attention (Ogden 59). Generally, immigrants are looking for work, so these people are the poor. Studies show that the poor has a history of high fertility rates (Weeks 210). So the less money the more children of parents of out-of-Europe origin.

France is one of the earliest European countries to report AIDS, (before 1982), making it one of the core countries, behind the United States (see figure below)

in this field (shanon 98). France has more reported AIDS victims than any other Western-European country (Shannon 100). Called the Iron-Curtain phenomenon, this uneven spread of AIDS among European countries, or a lack of spread from West to East, is thought to be due to political issues with non-intervention between neighboring governments (Shanon 98). With this theory in mind, scientists conclude that AIDS probably diffused through tourism and increased transportation (Shanon 91). They say that HIV can be traced through international airline travel routes and international diffusion (Shanon 91). International diffusion occurs between large urban areas, such as Paris, with strong international linkages (Shannon 165). In 1990, reports show an increase in European, US, and African contacts. Today we know that these 3 areas contain the highest reports of AIDS in the world (Shannon 90). (see graph below).

In 1984, 6,000 people from central Africa lived in France and AIDS were indentified among many of these people (Shannon 92). There is a direct correlation between socially disadvantaged groups, such as the unemployed and Africans, for example, increase France’s rates of infectious disease (Clarke 163).

Statistical trends as well as geographical show that France is simialar to the United States in respect to AIDS. There are increasing numbers of AIDS cases for women. The disease is expected to difuse to women, and therefore, there is an increasing number of cases within the children (Clarke 155). The AIDS epidemic generally follows the path of a high density metropolitan area, like Paris, to smaller cities and surrounding areas, such as villages and countrysides (Clarke 106).

Paris contains 98% of all cases of AIDS in France. This is no surprise considering that Paris has the largest percentage of immigrants in France.

Government actions against the spread of AIDS include emphasis on condoms, education programs and increased funding to find a vaccine (Clark 105).

In the absence of a vaccine worldwide, there is no hope for a cure in the near future. The French government does have the power to inspect all immigrants but has not enforced it. I feel that the government needs to better inspect immigrants from the core countries to help refuse the spread of this type of death.


Aldrich, R. (1984). Economy and society in Burguny since 1850. London: St. Martin’s Press.

Bozen, M., & Leridon, H. (1996). Sexuality and the social sciences. Aldershot: Dartmouth.

Ogden, P., & White P. (1988). Migrants in modern France. London: Unwin Hyman.

Noble, T. (1998). Western Civilization. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Spira, A. (1994). Sexual behavior and AIDS. Bookfield, USA: Avbury.

Weeks, J. (1999). Population, an introduction to concepts and issues. Belmont,CA: Wadsworth.


Aldrich, R. (1984). Economy and society in Burguny since 1850. London: St. Martin’s Press.

Bozen, M., & Leridon, H. (1996). Sexuality and the social sciences. Aldershot: Dartmouth.

Ogden, P., & White P. (1988). Migrants in modern France. London: Unwin Hyman.

Noble, T. (1998). Western Civilization. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Spira, A. (1994). Sexual behavior and AIDS. Bookfield, USA: Avbury.

Weeks, J. (1999). Population, an introduction to concepts and issues. Belmont,CA: Wadsworth.


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