Thursday, January 17, 2008

Does French Fertility Rest on an Overseas Foundation?

European fertility has declined to scary levels -- well below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. The average fertility in the European Union is 1.52. The one exception has been France, where the fertility level rose to 1.98 last year, surpassing Ireland as the most fertile country in Europe.

However, France, unlike other European countries, includes significant overseas territories in its official population. Among these are French Guiana, an official department (state) of France located on the north coast of South America. I have not been able to find separate fertility figures for French Guiana. I did find, though, that from 1990 to 2000, of all nations with above-replacement fertility rates, only Israel and Suriname had a fertility increase. Suriname is a neighbor and cultural cousin of French Guiana.

My guess is that the fertility rate in continental France is not actually rising. They face the same scenario of population decline that all the other EU nations do.

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