French Deaths Rise to Highest Level Since World War II

  • Life expectancy in France falls for the first time since 1969
  • French women are also having fewer babies, Insee says

More people died in 2015 in France than in any other year since World War II, the national statistics office Insee said, blaming “unfavorable” weather and a severe flu epidemic.

According to the first excerpts of the 2015 census published by Insee Tuesday, there were 600,000 deaths in the country last year, compared with 559,000 in 2014. Life expectancy slid for both men and women for the first time since 1969. French women could expect to live 85 years, four months less than in 2014. For men, life expectancy dipped by three months to 78.9, Paris-based Insee’s figures show.

“Exceptional climate and a viral phenomenon led to the increase in deaths in 2015,” said Marie Reynaud, Insee’s demographic and social unit chief.

Although the greater number of deaths was compensated by 800,000 births in the year, the level of newborns was at its lowest since 1999.  Women in France, whose fertility rate remains among the highest in Europe along with Ireland, had fewer babies than in the past decade, falling below 2 per woman. Women are having their first child later -- at 30.4 years, a month later than in 2014.

As of Jan. 1, France’s population stood at 66.6 million.

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