The very first Population article covering recent demographic developments in France, written by Jean Bourgeois in 1946, began with an estimate of French casualties in the Second World War. That of 2021 will analyse the initial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While unrelated, these two sets of sombre statistics form part of the history of the French population, as documented in the demographic reports published by Population since its creation. From 1969, the articles were presented in the form of a report to the French parliament. In 1970, Roland Pressat officialized these analyses of the ‘demographic situation’ and standardized their format, turning them into a regular feature of the journal that has now been running for 50 years.
Freely accessible from the date of publication, these articles describe the population structure and highlight ongoing trends in migration, fertility, marriage and divorce, mortality and causes of death. Reflecting the evolution of French society, their scope has expanded over the years, with the addition of data on induced abortions since 1973, on PACS civil partnerships (pacte civil de solidarité), and, more recently, on same-sex marriages. Each year’s article explores a specific cross-cutting theme; in 2020, the analyses focus on the demographic situations and behaviours of minors.
These articles are based on the latest available data, updated on an annual basis. Until now, the history of recent developments was summarized in a set of appendix tables. These historical time series, many of which date back to the early 20th century—and even earlier in some cases—are a statistical goldmine that Population would like to disseminate more widely. Following a meticulous process of verification, harmonization, and documentation, they have been compiled for around 50 indicators covering both metropolitan and overseas France.(1) They are available via INED’s institutional repository.(2)
We hope you enjoy reading the article and that this new data set will provide a useful statistical source for your current and future research. [End Page i]
1. Our thanks to Widal Tsang for undertaking this task in 2020.