PARIS: Thirty years ago, the government of ValÃ©ry Giscard d'Estaing was urging the French to have "un troisiÃ¨me enfant pour la France!" But it is only now that they have taken the advice.
The national statistics agency says that in 2006 France had the highest birthrate in Europe. The average number of births by women of fertile age was slightly more than two.
Thus France becomes one of the two European Union states with a positive birthrate; Ireland is the other. The contrast with their neighbors is very marked. Germany, Italy and Spain all have birthrates under 1.4. The rates in the new EU members, Slovakia, Slovenia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and even Roman Catholic Poland, are below 1.3.
French life expectancy in 2005 was also the highest in Europe, at 84 for women and 77 for men, and it increased last year by three and a half months for women and nearly five months for men.