Population. – On the basis of the census of May 10, 1954, the population of France was 42,774,174 residents, With an increase of 5.5% compared to the census of 1946. From more recent evaluations, in January 1958 the population had risen to 44,289,000 residents and in January 1959 it reached 44,788,000 residents But within this general increase, the demographic behaviors of the various regions are actually different: there are regions that show very significant increases such as the north-eastern mining districts (Moselle 23.7%, Meurthe and Moselle 14.8%, Ardennes 14.3%), the Mediterranean coast between the Var and the Rhone (Alpes-Maritimes 14.8% and Var 11.4%), the low plains along the Loire (10.3%), the Normandy coast along the bay of the Seine (dep. Of the Seine Inferiore 11.3% and Calvados 10, 7%) and especially the urban field of Paris (Dept. of Senna and Oise 20.8% and Dept. of Seine and Marne 11.4%). And there are areas in significant demographic decrease, such as the south-western area of the Massif Central (departments of Lozère −9%, Creuse −8.5%, Cantal −5.2%, Aveyron −5.5%) up to the plains Quercy (−4.6%), and then the median section of the Pyrenees (−4.2%), the northern extremity of Brittany (dep. Northern coasts −4.5%) and finally Corsica (−8, 8%). These variations are due more to displacements and migrations than to pure natural phenomena of surplus of births over the dead (as, however, is recorded especially in the Norman and Lorraine departments) or of surplus deaths over the births (such as in the mountainous departments of Ariège on the Pyrenees and Creuse in the central reliefs). And the consequence is that the population of the main urban complexes has increased again. But the increase in the French population between 1946 and 1954 is due to a much lesser extent than in the pre-war years to foreign population inflows (the total of non-French residents in France, which was 3 million in 1931, is decreased to one million and 453 thousand in 1954): inflows that only after 1958, due to the demand for industrial labor, increased somewhat (in 1958 a total of 150 thousand foreigners migrated to France for reasons of work, and of these more than half are Italian). On the other hand, the most solid motivation for those demographic increases following 1946 lies in the rise in the birth rate, which was not just a Post-war blaze (in 1946 the birth rate was 21,
According to TRACKAAH, this demographic revival, however, is a phenomenon of so fresh and brief recovery that, in the age structure of the population, it has so far only been able to influence the young ages: and although since 1946 there has been a regular quantitative rise in the classes up to 15 years of age. age, their current proportion of the total population (21.7%) remains the lowest in Europe. Instead, the demographic history of the years between the two wars is now reflected in the percentage of the elderly population (11.8% is over 65) which is one of the strongest in Europe.
Communications. – Combined, in part, with this general industrial impulse is the reorganization of services destined for trafficking, which participate for 33% in the formation of the national product. The Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer has managed to increase by 3/4, compared to the pre-war years, the use of each km of rail, through the rationalization of the marshalling yards and itineraries (many secondary sections have been abolished), with the advanced electrification of the main lines (Paris-Lyon, Paris-Toulouse, Paris-Bayonne, Toulouse-Nimes: in total 5200 km are already completed; Paris-Lille, Paris-Strasbourg, Lille-Strasbourg, Lyon-Marseille are in completion course), with the adoption of more powerful locomotives and more capable wagons, with the installation of belt tracks (consisting of sections of 700 m) which greatly reduce the vibrations of the carriages and the maintenance costs of the tracks, etc. Today the French railway network stretches for 40. 000 km and absorbs 30% of national passenger traffic and 60% of freight traffic. 68% of the rest of passenger traffic takes place by road and 2% by air; and freight traffic for 30% by road and 10% by waterways. The road network, very dense and generally excellent, is based on 82 thousand km of main roads (classified as “national”) and on 270 thousand of departmental roads (to which 370 thousand of local roads must be added): and there are 4 million cars and 2 million commercial and industrial vehicles. The network of canals is now 8,000 km long and along it a good internal merchant fleet (more than 10,000 boats for a total of 3.8 million t) annually conveys around 64 million t of goods – especially coal, hydrocarbons and building material. As far as external navigation is concerned, in the post-war years there was a significant increase in traffic which in 1958 was double that of 1938. The tonnage of the French-flagged vessel is now 4 million tonnes; in the French ports in the last years 3 to 4 million passengers were disembarked and embarked annually and there was a total movement of more than 80 million tons of goods (1/4 represented by Marseille traffic). Finally, air traffic received great impetus, which between 1955 and 1958 annually involved an average of 4 million passengers. The big company State-run Air France flies across five continents with a network that exceeds 200,000 km; and there are also a dozen private companies for liaison services within the country, and between France and neighboring countries.