Explained: Why is only 8% of the population involved in France’s 2024 census?

france census

A census is conducted in some form every year in France, but not all residents are asked to take part. Here’s the reason why, as well as what to expect if you receive a letter requesting your participation. 

France’s annual census is carried out by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) and helps provide detailed insight into the population, from data on demographics to housing conditions, occupations and even transportation.  

One key outcome of the census is that the information compiled helps guide policy making and can impact how much state funding and support is given to municipalities. The number of people living in a place also determines how many elected officials there will be on local city and town councils. 


Just 8% of addresses in municipalities with 10,000 or more residents are polled each year. In smaller towns and villages, a census of the population is only required once every five years.  

To be counted in the census of a specific locale, that municipality must be the location of a person’s main residence. If a person is contacted as part of the census at their second home, it is not necessary for the form to be filled out and the census taker will take note of the person’s living situation for future reference. 

If a person is selected to take part in the census, a letter from the local mayor will be dispatched to their address in the days before a visit from the census taker is due.  

Participation is obligatory, although those selected can choose to complete the form at their convenience online rather than in-person with the census taker. Completed paper documents can either be collected by the census taker or sent to the local mairie or INSEE.  


The annually taken census will commence on 18th January and run until 24th February. For smaller communes concerned with the latest five-year census, data-taking will take place between 18th January and 17th February.  

The forms are available in several languages in addition to French, such as English, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, Romanian, German, Turkish and Spanish. 

Click here for further information about this year’s census.  


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Photo source: Thibaut Marquis, Unsplash