Demography: these regions where the population is already declining

Posted Nov 24, 2022 12:44 PMUpdated Nov. 24, 2022, 5:02 p.m.

A peak at 69.3 million inhabitants in 2044 then a drop to 68.1 million in 2070. A year ago, INSEE delivered its 50-year evolution forecasts for the French population. But behind these figures hide contrasting situations according to the territories, shows a new study that the Institute publishes this Thursday.

The contrast is striking with the period 1995-2018 when the number of inhabitants increased, with annual growth varying between +0.13% and +1.18%. The most radical break in pace concerns five regions which saw this trend turn around in 2015 when they reached their demographic peak: Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Centre-Val de Loire, Grand Est, Normandy and Hauts -of France.

The south and the west more spared

But all the others will also be impacted, at the very least by a serious brake on the progression of their population or by a drop according to the central scenario adopted by INSEE; a scenario based on the assumption of stable fertility at 1.8 children per woman, regular gains in life expectancy to reach 90 years for women and 87.5 years for men, and net migration positive of 70,000 people per year.

On the basis of these assumptions, “between 2018 and 2050, the population would increase less quickly in two thirds of metropolitan regions and would continue to decrease in the remaining third”, estimates INSEE. And “between 2050 and 2070, population growth would not exceed 0.1% in any region,” adds the institute.

According to INSEE, Ile-de-France would resist overall better than the average, with the exception of Paris, whose population decline should continue.

The most spared would be the southern and western regions, with a significant increase in their overall population over the period 2018-2070. Occitania would be the most dynamic, with an annual increase of 0.25% by 2070, ahead of Pays de la Loire at +0.21%. These two regions would also be the only ones not to lose inhabitants between 2050 and 2070. But their progression would be very weak over these twenty years (+0.06% and +0.01%).

Closer examination reveals an overall decrease in population by 2070 along the diagonal of low population densities, from the Moselle to the Lot. Conversely, only 10 departments would see the increase in their population continue until 2070: Ariège, Haute-Garonne, Gironde, Hérault, Ille-et-Vilaine, Loire-Atlantique, Tarn , Tarn-et-Garonne, Guyana and Mayotte.

The impact of fertility

These prospects are strongly linked to the state of fertility, underlines INSEE. If it fell to 1.6 children per woman in 2030, all the departments would see their population drop. Conversely, the increase to 2 children per woman would delay or even completely cancel the existence of a tipping point by 2070 everywhere except in the diagonal of low densities.

Unsurprisingly, INSEE also stresses that regional disparities are strongly linked to intraregional and international migratory phenomena, with the attractiveness of the southern and western regions helping to maintain their population growth. What more than compensate for the natural deficit for Corsica, New Aquitaine, Occitanie, Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

The aging of the population which is announced will strongly affect all the departments of mainland France with, by 2070, more than 30% of people over 65 in 62 departments and even 40% in 5 departments (Charente-Maritime, Gers, Lot, Dordogne and Creuse).

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