Population Growth in the Century After Napoleon:
–1816 : 29.9 million
–1860 : 36.5 million [+22.1%]
–1910 : 39.5 million [+8.2%]
Germany (within 1871 borders).
–1816 : 22.4 million
–1860 : 37.6 million [+67.9%]
–1910 : 64.9 million [+72.6%]
To put the data another way:
— In 1816, there were 133 French for every 100 Germans.
— In 1910, there were 61 French for every 100 Germans!
Back in 1810 no one would have thought France would “soon” be a second-rate power, and that Prussia [or its successor state, i.e. Germany] would be the strongest power in Europe. Yet, for whatever reason, French fertility declined in the post-Napoleonic era, while the Germans’ soared. By the time a young Nietzsche started pondering philosophy, there were more German-speakers than French-speakers in Europe, the first time that could ever be said. By the early 1900s, there were far more German-speakers.
This [led to the] “Great War” breaking out in 1914…
A commenter, Rollory, proposed one idea about why France’s fertility fell:
[France’s fertility collapse] was Napoleon’s doing. Under the Ancien Regime, the standard was for the oldest son to inherit everything. He made the new default be that estates be split equally among all the heirs. The result is that having many kids means each one gets less. If you want your children to be prosperous, you have few – whereas under the old system, you don’t worry about it; the oldest gets it all and the others go off to seek their fortune.
The wisdom of Salic Law runs deep.
Rollory’s argument makes sense, but it can only apply to the landowning classes, as far as I can see. Fertility decline affected all of France, and dramatically so. What could explain France’s fertility collapse in the 1800s — among all its classes?
By the way, in case anyone is under any misapprehensions, and thinks France’s apparent low population-growth might be because by French outmigration, famines, plagues, or any other fantasy:
“Before 1800, marital fertility in France was similar to that of other European countries, but after 1800 the French rate declined rapidly. By 1840 it was 2/3 of the 1800 level, and by 1900 it was 1/2 of the 1800 level. In other European countries marital fertility did not begin to decline until the 1870s. “The fall of marital fertility in nineteenth-century France“, European Journal of Population (Jan. 1985)”
Update: Commenter RS has posted a great deal of further TFR information in the comments below, which confirms that France’s TFR was the lowest in Europe by 1820. Unexplained is why.