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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: 17 June 2022

Demographic situation

Total population

The total population of France is 67 million in the 2018-2019 school year, compared to 66 million in 2013-2014. Although the total population has increased, the number and proportion of young people under the age of 30 have decreased over the period. The population in France is therefore ageing.

Figure 1: Evolution of the school-age population in France, by age group


Number of students

% total pop



Number of students

% total pop

0-14 y.o.

12 304 634



0-14 y.o.

12 142 619


15-29 y.o.

11 778 054



15-29 y.o.

11 602 795


30 y.o. and over

41 840 142



30 y.o. and over

43 217 721


Source : MENJS-DEPP, Repères et références statistiques 2020, fiche 1.04, 2020 ; Repères et références statistiques 2015, fiche 1.4, 2015.

Land area

According to the latest available data from Eurostat (indicator [demo_r_d3area]), the land area of France is 633,186 km², including the overseas territories.

Migration flows

According to Eurostat data, in 2018, there were 387,000 immigrants in France, i.e. individuals who came to France from another country and settled there for at least 12 months (indicator [migr_imm8]). In the same year, there were 341,000 emigrants, i.e. individuals who left French territory for at least 12 months (indicator [migr_emi2]).

In 2010, there were 307,000 immigrants for 270,000 emigrants. The situation is therefore similar 10 years earlier, but at different levels. Indeed, in 2019, there are 80,000 more immigrants (or 26% more) and 71,000 more emigrants (or 26% more) than in 2010.

Employment rate

The Eurostat data (continuous employment survey in France), allow to report on the situation regarding employment and unemployment in the population in the country. In 2019, the employment rate is 71.6% among individuals aged 20 to 64 (Figure 4). This employment rate has been relatively stable since the early 2000s (69.2% in 2003, 68.9% in 2010).

The unemployment rate has also remained relatively stable over the same period. In 2019, this rate is 8.2% among 20-64 year-olds, compared to 8.5% in 2010 and 8% in 2003.

Figure 2: Changes in the employment and unemployment rates in France for individuals aged 20 to 64


Employment rate

Unemployment rate










 Source : Eurostat, Labour Force Survey (enquête emploi en en continu in France). Employment rate: indicator [lfsi_emp_a] ; unemployment rate: indicator [lfsa_urgaed]


In France, the official language is French. Article L121-3 of the French Education Code states that "the language of instruction, examinations and competitions, 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, a "values of the Republic" team in each academy 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 in charge 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 and educational and pedagogical advice, and the specifications for the "academic teams - 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.