Fall in births, historic rise in life expectancy: the year 2023 revealed by INSEE

Fall in births, historic rise in life expectancy: the year 2023 revealed by INSEE


It’s the year of records but also, paradoxically, a return to normal after the dark period of the Covid years. Like every year, in mid-January, INSEE (National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies), the public establishment created in 1946, makes public the main elements of its demographic report of the year that has just passed. For 2023, it is rich in lessons.

Births are plummeting…

It’s a baby crash that was predictable, according to the figures delivered each month last year by INSEE: births decreased by almost 7% (from 726,000 in 2022 to 678,000 in 2023). “ This is a significant drop, but despite everything, we remain at fairly high levels compared to our European neighbors,” puts Laurent Toulemon, demographer at INED (national institute of demographic studies) into perspective. France is in fact the most fertile country in Europe with the Czech Republic and Romania.

But it’s a fact: French women are having fewer babies and they are having them later and later. Result: their fertility rate is falling again this year, it stands at 1.68 children per woman (it was 1.79 in 2022).

Should we see this as an effect of the economic crisis, the lengthening of studies, the eco-anxiety which undermines the younger generations? Couples are increasingly postponing their age when they have their first baby. INSEE notes that the average age of women at the arrival of their first child is now 31 years (compared to 29 a few years ago).

…and deaths are also decreasing

“In 2023, the number of deaths is estimated at 631,000, or 44,000 fewer than in 2022 (-6.5%),” reports INSEE. The institute explains this by the fact that the year 2022 had been marked by a ” resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic with the Omicron variant, but also three periods of extreme heat and a winter flu epidemic.”

This was not the case for 2023. Demographer Gilles Pison explains: “2023 did not experience very high mortality linked to Covid, the flu epidemic, or heatwave episodes”. “We are therefore returning to mortality risks which are at levels prior to Covid”, comments Sylvie Le Minez, head of the demographic and social studies unit at INSEE

Life expectancy has reached 80 years for men, a record!

This is a historic record for both men and women. For the first time, life expectancy at birth has reached 80 years for men (+0.7 years compared to 2022)! For women, the increase also continues, but less markedly as it stands at 85.7 years (compared to 85.6 in 2019). This remains a record after the dark years of the health crisis when the life expectancy indicator fell sharply.

“Men tend to pay more attention to their health today, they drink and smoke less,” comments Gilles Pison, demographer at INED and editor-in-chief of the journal Population and Societies since 2000.

For women, the indicator is now progressing more slowly. “We are making up for the bad years, but women’s life expectancy continues to stagnate,” explains Éric Le Bourg, researcher at the CNRS and specialist in aging. The fact remains that the period of the health crisis is now behind us “The year 2023 is a normal year! », Launches Laurent Toulemon. Progress in the fight against death continues and that is good news.

A “queue” phenomenon for weddings

We know it, many weddings have been canceled or postponed due to Covid. In 2023, the French have therefore still “caught up” on the weddings which did not take place in 2020 and 2021, due to health restrictions. The number of unions in 2023 stagnates compared to the previous year at a relatively high level (242,000). Many couples still had to wait until 2022 because the rooms were not available, for example.

“We are therefore witnessing a queuing phenomenon,” deciphers demographer Laurent Toulemon, who adds nuance: “But it is not impossible that marriages will experience a further decline in the years to come.” Before the Covid crisis, year after year there were fewer and fewer French people “saying yes”. For its part, the PACS “reaches its highest level since its creation in 1999”, Sylvie Le Minez tells INSEE.



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