A Few Facts and Figures For the first time since 1969 life expectancy in France has dropped – by five months for women to 85 years, and by three months for men to 78.9 years. These are INSEE’s figures for 2015. However, overall France is still near the top of the life expectancy charts, ranking 14th overall. charts 2015’s drop is being explained as a one-off due to three severe events that helped push up the number of deaths in France to 600,000, a rise of 41,000 from the previous year. Firstly there was a flu epidemic in the early months, then a heatwave in the summer and then a brief very cold spell in October. Sadly all these things take their toll on elderly people. This is the highest annual number of deaths in the post-war period and has inevitably had an impact on the life expectancy figures. A good proportion of the French population is now over 65 – 18.8%. The median age is 41.3 years. To try and counteract that 800,000 babies were born in France last year, but since French families have an average of 1.96 children that’s not enough to sustain the current population growth level of 0.43%. France’s population is 64,554,196 (as of yesterday January 30, 2016 per United Nations estimates on the worldometers.info website) accounting for 0.88% of the total world population. Experts remind us that life expectancy is not a projection, it’s a ‘photo’ at a precise time. To explain, in 2000 life expectancy was 79 years in France. That didn’t mean that babies born in 2000 could expect to live to 79, it meant that the average age of death was 79 years. Obviously life expectancy cannot predict major scientific breakthroughs that may occur that lengthen life, nor how bad health habits such as drinking and smoking may either increase or decrease. It’s a guideline. France does consistently well in the many and various quality of life surveys, such as OECD’s betterlife, so even if people may live longer in Japan, Guernsey and Hong Kong, it’s not a bad place to be.

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