France is the champion of Europe! Yes… The European champion of the number of births out of wedlock! In France, 6 babies out of 10 are born in families in which the parents are not married. In Greece, they are only 1 out of 10 and a little more than 5 out of 10 in Sweden. The average inside the European Union lies at 1 birth out of wedlock out of 3 births.
How can we explain this French peculiarity? For many centuries, the society considered that people shouldn’t “put the cart before the horse” and that they should get married before having children. Couples who were pregnant without being married often rushed to the city hall to tie the knot before the baby was born.
Progressively, the society has changed and stopped judging pregnancies out of wedlock negatively. The negative name of “fille-mère” was replaced by “mère célibataire”, later by the administrative term “famille monoparentale”. In the early 2000’s, PACS gained ground on wedding. Today, many births “out of wedlock” happen in couples joined by a PACS.
Whether the parents choose a PACS or decided to be single, a child born out of wedlock is rarely a child without a father: children are mainly acknowledged by their fathers (in 84% of the cases).
France knows how to handle children – with a fertility rate of around 2 children per woman, France is at the top of the European countries. What about the age of French women when their first child is born? It lies in the European average: around 29 years old.
To go further
- “1 sur 10”, “5 sur 10”, “84%”… How to read fractions and percentages in French? Here is an explanation and an exercise to understand, learn and train
- “Que les parents soient pacsés” – do you know how to use present subjunctive? Review the list of conjunctions that come with this tense and train with this exercise
Discovering more about the subject
- PACS, wedding, children – you are a foreigner living in France and you ask yourself many questions? The SamSam is a foreigner’s guide to France and it gives you some answers, for example in the “Marriage/Family” category
- In which European country do people have the most children? For more information and to learn more about our differences and common points, go to Toute l’Europe!
The French family policy is serving parents’ and children’s well-being: Europe wants to be like us.
A video of Roselyne Bachelot to watch again, among others, with subtitles in 7 languages, in the Famille section of Ensemble en France’s MOOC