A study recently revealed that 40% of French children under the age of four have an immigrant background. These statistics about young children in France and their background alarmed the country’s far-right political wing, but at the end, it can’t do anything about it.
This may not be strange if you look at the social structure of France. Whether on the level of workers in companies or facilities, or within government departments, were you can find many Frenchmen of African and Maghreb background or in the French National Team, “the L´Equipe Tricolore”, which one the World Cup in 2018 for the second time. Most of those players, who won the World Cup have an immigration background.
In the “Sandoni” suburb, which is located in the northeast of Paris, you almost feel like you’re walking in a street of Algiers, with almost no French presence and an Algerian density in terms of population, shops, and even the culture and vibe of the place.
In “Saint – Titian” south of the city of Rouen, which is the capital of the Normandy province in the north of France a Moroccan vibe reminds visitors of the cities of Rabat or Casablanca. Even the local population in Rouen dresses in the Moroccan style.
A profound change in France’s population
With such a large number of young children with immigrant backgrounds, who will be the fundament of the French labor market within two decades, the number of young men with a migration background will be equal to the number of French natives. Furthermore, according to statistics French women are facing a declining fertility, compared to high fertility for immigrant women. This fact may off – balance the percentage of French natives compared to people with migration background even more.
At a time when aging is on the rise, as it is the case for most African countries, the situation in France is heading towards demographic change during the second half of the century, which means within one generation only.
The former French Minister of State Pierre Lelouche said: “There is a profound change in the population of this country and in the number of schoolchildren, because the majority of this population comes from black Africa and the Maghreb. 4 out of 10 children in France between 0 and 4 years old are of immigrant background, as these figures are based on the country’s last census, which dates back about two years,”
“Where does this seemingly very high figure come from?” Le Figaro questioning the minister’s statement.
But these figures are confirmed by the journalist “Mauri Pervinkier” in a report by Le Figaro, published in November 2022, noting that according to the study, 39.4% of children between the ages of 0 and 4 have a link to migration over 3 generations.
The author explained that:
- 0.8% of them are immigrants born abroad,
- 13.3% have immigrant parents (second generation),
- 11.3% have one immigrant parent (second generation),
- 1.8% have 4 immigrant grandparents (third generation), and
- 12.2% have at least one immigrant grandparent (third generation).
The children are predominantly African, with 10.9% from the Maghreb and 5.6% from the rest of Africa, compared to 1.3% from Spain, Italy and Portugal.
The descendants of third – generation immigrants account for 13.9% of children aged 0 – 4, of whom 5.3% are from the Maghreb and 1.5% from the rest of Africa, compared to 4.5% from Spain, Italy or Portugal.
While the number of immigrants, children aged 0 – 4 years, is very small (unlike the children or grandchildren of immigrants), the number is much higher for people in their thirties and fifties.
“The second generation of descendants under the age of 18 were born in the first decade of the twenty – first century, while those over 60 are children of the 1990s, at a time when immigrants represented 6% of the French population,” the study said.
Fertility in the immigrants‘ favor
The journalist Mauri Pervinkier asserts that this larger proportion of immigrants and their descendants is partly explained by the high fertility rate. According to data from the French Institute of Statistics, the total fertility rate in 2016, for migrants was 2.72 children per woman compared to 1.79 children per non – immigrant woman, a difference of 0.93 children per woman.
The overall fertility index for women, whether immigrants or not, was around 1.91 children per woman. The fertility level in France in 2016 was lower, at 0.12 children per woman.
According to a 2010 study, the fertility rate for women with and non – migrant background is similar (about 1.85 children per woman).
About 40% of children aged 0 to 4 have a migration link over three generations.
One – third of the population under the age of 60 have a migrant background
Results of the survey carried out by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies and the National Institute for Demographic Studies, confirm that France is heading toward demographic change in just one generation.
The survey which included more than 26,000 samples of people, confirmed that about a third of the French population under the age of 60 are of immigrant background. The survey was conducted between 2019 and 2020, and the results were published in July 2022.
The results showed that 32% of the population under the age of 60 were descendants of immigrants over 3 generations, 9% of whom were immigrants (5.8 million people), 13% were children of immigrants and 10% were descendants of immigrants.
The survey results also showed that half of the descendants of the third generation have only one immigrant grandfather, while the link to migration fades across generations.
According to the survey findings, this growing mix promotes the mixing of the second – generation population.
Among the notable findings, the survey noted that in families where both parents are immigrants, children are more qualified at the school level than their parents, and possibly the rest of the French.
While 5% of immigrant parents have a higher education diploma, 33% of their French – born children have a university degree, and among the nonimmigrant population this percentage rises from 20% to 43%.
The trend towards demographic change is not limited to France only, but includes many European countries, but the situation in France is more obvious already.
With fertility rates declining and Europeans still reluctant to have children, countries such as Germany and Italy could face a similar scenario in the future, but not within the next generation.
This conclusion is based on the fact that Africa, the old continent, faces the challenge that it is already aging, at a time when the difference between the top and the bottom of the pyramid is increasing. Only immigrants and their children are working to bring the difference closer, but this rapprochement will be at the expense of demographic change for those countries.
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