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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Population: demographic situation, languages and religions


1.Political, social and economic background and trends

1.3Population: demographic situation, languages and religions

Last update: 26 March 2024

Demographic situation 

Total population 

The total population of France is 68,4 millions on January 2024, compared to 67,3 millions on January 2019 (Bilan démographique 2023 - Insee Première - 1978). 

Although the total population has increased, the number and proportions of school population (under the age of 30) have remained fairly stable over the last years (figure 1). The population in France is therefore still ageing. 

Evolution of the school population in France, by age group


Number of students

% of total population of France



Number of students

% of total population of France

2 y.o. and less

96 278


  2 y.o. and less

73 987


3-5 y.o.

2 421 744


  3-5 y.o.

2 280 888


6-10 y.o.

4 184 973


  6-10 y.o.

4 157 566


11-14 y.o.

3 251 661


  11-14 y.o.

3 424 843


15-17 y.o.

2 388 225


  15-17 y.o.

2 454 504


18-20 y.o.

1 558 256


  18-20 y.o.

1 725 077


21-24 y.o.

932 240


  21-24 y.o.

1 139 220


25-29 y.o.

249 247


  25-29 y.o.

299 248


30 y.o and over

142 157


  30 y.o and over

131 999


All ages

15 224 781


  All ages

15 687 332


Source: MENJ-DEPP, Repères et références statistiques 2018, fiche 1.4, p. 17 et Repères et références statistiques 2023, fiche 1.05, p. 19  

Land area 

According to the latest available data (Eurostat indicator [reg_area3]), in 2022, the land area of France is 633,886 km², including the overseas territories, which makes it the largest country in the European Union. 

Migration flows 

According to Eurostat data, in 2021 there were 336,398 immigrants in France, i.e. individuals who came to France from another country and settled for at least 12 months (indicator [migr_imm8]). The same year, there were 177,028 emigrants, i.e. individuals who left French territory for at least 12 months (indicator [migr_emi2]).

In 2012, there were 327,431 immigrants for 255,922 emigrants. The situation has changed significantly over the last years, with net migration increasing particularly since 2017 (Bilan démographique 2023 [tableau complémentaire 1]). 

Employment rate 

The Eurostat data (continuous employment survey in France), allow to report on the situation regarding employment and unemployment of the working population in the country. In 2022, the employment rate was 74% among individuals aged 20 to 64 (indicator [lfsi_emp_a]). This employment rate has increased since the mid-2010s (70.3% in 2015, 72.3% in 2019). 

The unemployment rate has considerably decreased over the same period : in 2022, this rate was 6.9% among people aged 20 to 64, compared to 9.9% in 2015 and 8.1% in 2019 (indicator [une_rt_a]).


In France, with the exception of specific cooperation frameworks, the official language is French. Article L121-3 of the French Education Code states that in general "the language of instruction, examinations and competitive examinations, as well as theses and dissertations in public and private educational establishments, is French". 

However, Article 75-1 of the 1958 Constitution states that regional languages are part of France's heritage. Eleven regional languages (Breton, Catalan, Corsican, Basque, the regional languages of Alsace, Creole, Gallo, Occitan-langue d'oc, Tahitian, Melanesian languages and the regional languages of the Moselle countries) are recognised and sometimes used in certain parts of France. Considered as part of the national culture and heritage, they are the subject, in the regions concerned, of specific optional teaching from pre-primary school to higher education. According to Article 312-10 of the French Education Code, since regional languages and cultures are part of France's heritage, priority is given to teaching them in the regions where they are used. This teaching may be provided throughout schooling in accordance with the procedures defined by agreement between the State and the territorial authorities where these languages are used. 

Secularism and the teaching of religions 

France is a secular republic, which organises the separation of religions and the State. The State is neutral with regard to religious or spiritual beliefs. There is no state religion. The status of religion in France is defined by the 1905 law on the separation of Church and State. The principle of secularism guarantees freedom of conscience and protects the freedom to believe, not to believe and to change one's belief. To ensure compliance with this principle, which is essential to the transmission of knowledge and the training of young citizens, in each academy a team "values of the Republic" intervenes in schools and establishments in the event of an infringement of the principle of secularism. 

The Charter of Secularism in Schools sets out the challenges of the principle of secularism in schools in relation to the other values of the Republic. The Charter of Secularism in Schools must be visibly displayed in all public schools and secondary education establishments. Since 2018, a Council of Wise Men on Secularism has been set up under the Minister for National Education. Composed of teachers, inspectors and, above all, researchers, this council's mission is to establish a common doctrine on the subject of secularism. 

Numerous resources, available online for educational teams or academic teams, have been developed with the Council of Wise Men and the Ministry of National Education. These include the Vadémécum "Secularism at school", which contains practical information sheets on respect for secularism by pupils and the various school actors. It provides a legal analysis as well as educational and pedagogical advice, and the specifications for the ‘academic teams on secularism and religious facts’, which define the principles, objectives, missions and functioning of the teams in order to manage urgent situations and prevent breaches of secularism.