Europe 1 with AFP 12:13 pm, 06 April 2023

-a-doodle-doo! Never before has the France had so many centenarians on its territory. Nearly 30,000 people are 100 years old or older, a record in Europe. But there are predispositions. Women with a high level of education are most likely to reach this symbolic age.

The France has 30,000 centenarians, including a clear majority of women, a number that has risen sharply since the 1960s, says an INSEE study published Wednesday. Since the years 1960-1975, the number of people aged 100 or over has multiplied by nearly 30, notes the National Institute of Statistics. France is the European country with the most centenarians, according to INSEE.

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The probability of becoming a centenarian has increased markedly over time: 0.9% of women born in 1900 have become centenarians, compared to 3% of those born in 1922. This trend is expected to continue. Among people born in 1940, 6% of women and 2% of men would reach the age of one hundred, according to INSEE projections. The France could thus count 76,000 centenarians in 2040.

Women more in charge of reaching the centenary

In 2070, their number could be between 100,000 and 600,000, according to different estimates, which depend in particular on the evolution of life expectancy. Currently, of the 30,000 centenarians who live in France, 86% are women, says INSEE.

"At any age, the mortality of women is lower than that of men," recalls the institute. From the sixties, in particular, the gap between the number of people of each sex widens: women represent 53% of sexagenarians, 61% of octogenarians and 73% of nonagenarians.

Studies play a role

Just over one in two centenarians live in institutions. Of the rest, 33% live alone, 12% are housed with another person, most of the time one of their children, and 4% live as a couple. "The rather high frequency of home life for centenarians is partly explained by the fact that they are the least fragile of their generation and therefore the most likely to be autonomous," says INSEE.

Becoming a centenarian is much more common among higher education graduates, who "generally have a higher standard of living, which promotes their access to care," notes INSEE. Compared to the total number of inhabitants in France, the number of centenarians remains "modest": they represent 0.04% of the population.