French birthrate

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We’ve talked about the French birthrate before, so here is a story out on that topic. Note that France has Europe’s second highest birthrate.

Ireland: 1.99
France: 1.90
Norway: 1.81
Sweden 1.75
UK: 1.74
Netherlands: 1.73
Germany: 1.37
Italy: 1.33
Spain: 1.32
Greece: 1.29

To obviate the questions of algebraically challenged readers (lovers of the qualitative query that some of you are),

1.9 = ((white French)/(total)) * fertility + ((non-white French)/(total)) * fertility

If you assume that 20% of French women who might have children are non-white (erring on the high side), and you assume that the white French fertility is 1.5, you’d get 3.5 for the non-whites. Just plug and chug possibilities. I don’t know the French language literature but my minimal knowledge of Europeans informs me that it is far less strange for French women to have multiple children than it is for Italians (as a contrast), so I don’t think the high fertility can be attributable purely to non-white residents.


  1. Maybe the highest fertility French white women are the dysgenics(if such a class exists over there).

  2. In France, the fertility rate is 1.94 children born per woman (2005.) (In comparison, the U.S. fertility rate is 2.08 children born per woman.) Without immigrant women, this figure would (only) drop by 0.05 children born per woman. 
    So the change appears to be due mostly to the native French getting more fertile. I’ve been looking at this stuff for a few years (re France). It seems to be tres chic to have babies right now. Many French celebs are doing it.

    On page 9 of this study in German you find for years 1989/90 and 1998/99 birth rates for women in France differentiated into “french” (1,72) and various foreign woman groups(par example black African 4,07; average foreign woman 2,8). 
    Although the authors of this study have a good reputation unfortunately no definitions are given.  
    Williams source contenting than the frech birth rate without immigrant women would drop by only 0.05 children born per woman I can not take for serious as it is full of pc-nonsense

  4. I have to agree that anything out of Brookings tends to be more than a tad to the left of center. But the rise of births in France (in contrast to say Germany or Italy) seems to have more to do with changes in white behavior than immigrant issues. Also, the last time I checked, the government gave meaningful tax breaks to the well off for that third, even fourth child. 
    In the US, we do the opposite; the IRS takes away all deductions for dependents after a certain level of income.

  5. 1.72*0.8+2.8*0.2 = 1.94. pretty good fit. thanks for the source. commenters please do a little algebra as well as providing sources. 
    i am also a bit skeptical of the brookings report. that being said, it must be noted that france has a long history of swings in birth rates (eg., its early demographic transition), so i would not be surprised if both immigration and endogenous factors are at work. if i had to bet i would bet that the latter is more important…but since the numbers out of france are guess work that is dicey.

  6. Replacement fertility is something like 2.3 or 2.4, isn’t it. So none of those places are maintaining.  
    Historically, cities needed continual replenishment from the countryside — both because of low fertility and because of high mortality. Cities were the focusses of cultural life, finance, luxury, status, science, productivity, etc., but demographically they were parasitical.  
    Perhaps the “developed world” is now the cities, and the less-developed and undeveloped world are the countryside. Thus immigration would always remain high. 
    Discussions here about low fertility seldom have really addressed the fact that if women have an absolutely free choice as to whether to have children or not, they often choose not to (or to have one or two). High fertility rates, even as high as 2.4, seem to depend on the restriction of women’s choices.  
    Childraising is really a dilemma in economics, too — or should be, except that they pretty much ignore it. Where does the work force come from? Who pays for it? 
    Childraising is not an economically rational act either for men or for women, but especially not for women. You can make it seem rational by alleging ad hoc intangibles, but you can make anything seem rational that way. (Certainly it’s some intangible that makes the Doukhobors strip naked and burn down their own houses.)

  7. The rationale for having children is the basic instinct to pass on our genetic material. Middle class people seem often to have lost this instinct. Maybe we are too isolated from the reality of death.

  8. There is no reason for us, personally, to care whether our genetic material is passed on. Someone who tells their genes to go fuck themselves will be better off during their lifetime, and no worse off afterward. As I remember, Dawkins allowed this possibility.  
    Some of our personally irrational behavior may be programmed in our genes, but economics tries to find a rational organization of the behavior of rational humans.  
    From a descriptive or predictive point of view, the problem is that given free choice, especially by women, fertility falls below replacement. Thus, an economics of rational individuals describes a non-viable society.

  9. You are kidding about there not being a rational reason for having children, right ? How about: so that you won’t be consigned to living in destitution when you’re too old and/or infirm to take care of yourself. Oh, I know, perhaps your well-diversified 401k portfolio will take care of you since financial meltdowns never happen. Or perhaps those Bismarck-invented government pensions will continue to flow [cheerfully financed by the progeny of the irrational goobers who decided to have children]. But perhaps not.

  10. Someone who didn’t have children could save and invest much more money. Childraising has a big money cost and probably a bigger opportunity cost. 
    In many respects the panic about Social Security is a hoax. But even without Social Security, an individual would be better off remaining childless and saving and investing. Children cannot be depended on either to be able to support their parents, or to be willing to.  
    In subsistence societies like traditional China, where the only wealth for most people was land (which needs to be worked by healthy adults) children were the only security in old age. But wealth-accumulation is possible in our society.

  11. In a modern society, children are a major drain on the parents’ resources. There is no time when they are pulling even close to their weight until they are out of school; then they go away. They even borrow $ for down payments on over-priced houses. In Europe, they remain unemployed.  
    Often they do not like their lives, their parents and generally wish they had never been born.  
    ”How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child” -King Lear 
    So having a child in a modern society is a real crap shoot. You could get kids who turn into loving, talented, and helpful adults (as mine have) or end up like King Lear (well, at least one out of his three wasn’t bad).  
    The more I consider the problems of modern society – with it’s numerous forms of birth control, one parent homes, divorces, etc., the more I think that we have yet to comprehend how empty the cradles of the future will be. Russia possibly has a glimpse.

  12. “There is no reason for us, personally, to care whether our genetic materical is passed on” 
    That has been my line for years. 
    After truly giving some thought to the idea of having kids, i came to the same conclusion as you. 
    Having children doesn’t lengthen my life in any way. How do my genes or offspring benefit me when i’m in my grave? And there’s no rational reason for passing on ones genes, at least not for the individual. This game is about the perpetuation of species, not me. 
    We are currently the only species that could, as a function of intelligence, willfully cause our own extinction by simply abstaining from coital activity during the lifespan. No penetration! Voluntary extinction. Sounds about right! 
    Maybe we could get the get the UN to agree to this as a human goal. Also, it is in very easy reach – 100 years or less if the collective is sincere. It should be attempted within the next the next 75 years.