16 January 2008


The French government is preparing its latest census of the population. Census takers will be visiting us sometime between tomorrow and February 15. For us, it will be interesting to see what kinds of questions they ask.

The funny thing is that just as the census-taking is about to begin, the government organization responsible for it announced yesterday that the French population is now 63.8 million, or 64.5 million counting the residents of overseas départements —Guadeloupe and Martinique in the Caribbean, for example — and territories — French Polynesia, etc.

The census organization, INSEE — L'Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques, which is part of the Ministry of the Economy — says 816,500 babies were born last year in France, and 526,500 people died. Immigration totaled 70,000.

In terms of population, at nearly 64M inhabitants France is the second-largest country in the European Union, after Germany (82M) and just ahead of the United Kingdom (61M). The French birth rate is the highest in Europe. Nonetheless, France is aging, with people over 65 accounting for 16.3% of the total population.

A male child born in 2007 has a life expectancy of 77.5 years, and a female child 84.4. Life expectancy for those born in 2007 is three months higher than for those born in 2006. People under 20 make up 24.9% of the population, a slight decrease from 2006.

Now what I wonder is why, if they know all this already, they are now going to do a census. Seems like a classic case of putting the cart before the horse.


  1. Ha, that is funny - maybe they're basing it on the number of deaths & births, and the actual census is more so to see where people are actually living?

    A friend of mine has been hired to help with it, and I'm sure she'll have some stories to tell when she's done!

  2. Hi Ken !

    M and Mme Amerloque refused flat out to answer the census questions last year. Invasion of privacy ... some are quite personal. They were assured that the censustakers were sworn to secrecy ... ha !

    They were also threatened with legal action ... and are still waiting.

    For the past several years, the census figures have been "estimates" anyway. The counting system was changed ...


  3. Bonjour l'Amerloque,

    Isn't the recensement once a decade as in the U.S.? We've been here five years now and have not been recensés before 2008.

    Thanks for the comment and good luck with the poursuites.

  4. There are global estimates, and there are the detailed statistics (particularly for different local government areas) that a census takes. That's here in the UK, at any rate: there is talk about not having regular censuses but ad hoc surveys instead, but so much about finance for local government and public services depends on what the central government knows about the make-up of local populations that it seems very unlikely anything could substitute for a full census from time to time.

  5. Hi Ken !

    //Isn't the recensement once a decade as in the U.S.? //

    It used to be, but changed several years ago, in 2004, to be precise.

    During the last official census, hundreds of thousands of people – Amerloque and his entire bourgeois building, for starters - didn't even answer one question; many of the questions were considered far too invasive. In addition, few citizens really believed the disclaimer that the censustaker was "bound by professional secrecy". In the "cite" tower blocks, some censustakers were beaten up and escorted out. In many areas they simply refused to go into the "banlieue". (sigh)

    The census here in France is no longer a door-to-door classical census carried out at regular intervals, but a "rolling census", called "recensement rénové". A lot of it appears to be "estimation" and "extrapolation". Certain villages, towns and cities, as well as cantons are selected every year, the inhabitants are "counted" and the results used to construct the national figures. Part of the government subsidy for municipal operations (the DGF – Dotation Globale de Fonctionnement) is based on the population of each town/city and some municipal authorities were allegedly fudging the figures.

    That - plus all the people who refused to answer the questions – was given as the "official" reason for the change in census process. It was page 3 news in the financial press for quite a while. (smile)

    The French Wiki article makes a interesting read … http://tinyurl.com/2peoe4

    //We've been here five years now and have not been recensés before 2008.//

    Looks like the rolling census is coming your way. (grin)

    //Thanks for the comment and good luck with the poursuites.//

    Amerloque extends his thanks … but is quite sure there won't be any legal followup. "They" would have to take thousands upon thousands of people to court …

    Une voisine de palier, in the French manner, has found a better way to avoid answering … (smile)

    When the censustaker comes, request with a pretty please that she/he leave to forms to be filled out and returned to the City Hall (the old way). Then just sit on the forms, and when push comes to shove '("Where are your forms ?"), simply state that the forms were sent to the City Hall, and that if the City Hall lost the forms, that's City Hall's problem. (grin)


    PS: Bonne Année !!!


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