France’s Birth Rate Continues to Fall

June 06, 2023

Since January 2023, the fall in the birth rate has become a constant in French demography, which is not proven wrong by the latest figures of April 2023. A phenomenon which, according to experts, is linked to the deterioration of family policy for several decades.

In April 2023, 1,788 births were recorded on average every day, according to data collected by INSEE, and made public on May 25. It is a figure that represents a drop of 7% compared to April 2022, and also 7% compared to April 2020.

The trend of the past 10 years has thus seen a decrease in the number of births, which have reached a historically low number in France.

To be more precise, if the birth rate is falling in all regions of metropolitan France, there are however some regional variations: thus, Occitanie and Ile-de-France are the regions where the fall in the birth rate is the most marked.

The drop is also greater than elsewhere in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (-12%) but less marked in Brittany and Normandy (-3%). In the overseas departments, births have, on the other hand, increased in Martinique and also in Mayotte.

A decline that is surprising at first sight: the rise in marriages after the Covid pandemic, the decrease in the unemployment rate, an economic situation supported at arm's length by the “whatever it takes” from the executive … So many arguments – purely material or statistical – which made demographers believe in a future populated by newborns.

But statistics are not crystal balls... If we compare the drop in the fertility rate with the objective deterioration of family policy over the last few decades, the cause and effect relationship is perfectly established: each time positive measures of family policy have been put in place, fertility has increased, and systematically fallen in the opposite case.

As a recent anti-birth measure, of note is the universality of family allowances that was abolished in the 2018 Budget programming act: a blow for families denounced at that time by Catholic family associations.

Also of note is the reform of parental leave – meant to encourage women to return to work by pushing men to stop their work to take care of their young children – which has often led to a drop in income. Not to mention the family quotient revised to an ever lower level: had they deliberately wanted to discourage French couples from having children, they could not have done better.

But it’s worse: the State has put local authorities on a diet, in terms of financial allocations, and the budgets allocated to child care have often been the first affected. Not to mention a skimpy housing policy, which discourages families wanting to grow.

The Head of State recently complained about the “decivilization” at work in our country, a neologism that sociologist Nicolas Fourquet, an evening visitor to the Elysée, would have whispered to him, according to information from Le Monde.

But it is not enough to complain while throwing gas on the fire to put out the burning flames: the priority is certainly to “recivilize” the country, but it must start by repopulating it with Christian families, like those who came to walk, by the thousands, across the plains of Beauce, in order to sing the praises of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary [the Pentecost Pilgrimage].