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1Population celebrates its seventieth anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, we will take a look back at some of the very first articles published by the journal in 1946, the year of its creation.

2In 1946, Population was the scientific showcase of the Institut national d’études démographiques (the French Institute for Demographic Studies, INED) founded some months earlier, in October 1945. Each issue was introduced by an editorial penned by Alfred Sauvy, INED’s new director, under the title “Faits et problèmes du jour” (Topical facts and problems). Most authors were INED researchers, and practically all were men. Since then, the journal has become increasingly independent of its host institution. Recognized by the international research community, it is now a scientific journal open to all, welcoming authors from INED and elsewhere. Population is now available in both French and English (for 13 years, an annual selection of articles was published in English, but since 2002, all articles have been published in both languages), and authors now come from institutions across the world, with men and women equally represented.

3While developing its editorial independence, Population still retains some of its original features. In its early years, each issue of the journal – already a quarterly publication – included eight or nine research articles, three to five shorter papers under the heading “Note et Documents” along with reviews of recently published books. All in all, the current version is not so very different. Each quarterly issue now comprises four or five articles, one or two short papers and a series of book reviews. Today’s articles are fewer in number, but more lengthy, reflecting changing methods and higher levels of technicity. The vocabulary of demography has also evolved: some of the expressions in the articles of 1946 may seem outdated, or even inappropriate for a scientific journal. The first articles published in Population provided a highly instructive overview of specific topics, revealing an ambition to mark out a discipline that was gaining new recognition through the creation of INED. The goal of Population was – and still is – to disseminate demographic knowledge to a wide audience.

4As one might expect, the articles in these first four issues of 1946 cover the three major themes of demography: fertility (several articles on large families), child and adult mortality, and migration, often examined in relation to employment. Inevitably, the demographic impact of the Second World War is a central topic in that year (“Progrès technique, destructions de guerre et optimum de population” [Technical progress, war destruction and optimal population size] by Georges Letinier, “Conséquences de six années de guerre sur la population française” [Impact of six years of war on the French population] by Paul Vincent). Economic questions are also a central concern during this period of reconstruction. The article titles speak for themselves: “Plein emploi et pleine population” [Full employment and full population] by Alfred Sauvy, or “Richesses minières et peuplement : Lorraine, Sarre et Ruhr” [Mineral wealth and settlement: Lorraine, Sarre and Ruhr]. The link with public policy in France and abroad is already clearly visible, with articles looking at “family allowances”, “social and population policy in Denmark” or “social insurance in Canada”. There is already a strongly international flavour to the journal, with several articles on the demography of other countries, in Europe or elsewhere, but in most cases in the industrialized world. Examples include papers on “demographic change in the Netherlands or Belgium” (Jean Daric), “the demographic problems of Norway” or the factors influencing “fertility in the United States and Canada”. This interest in the demography of other continents has expanded over the years, and research on Southern countries now features largely in the journal.

5Examination of data sources and methods was a major concern at the time, with the presentation of new sources, such as the “census of 10 March 1946”, new surveys on “the upturn in births” or more complex topics such as Jean Sutter’s survey on “intellectually deficient school-age children”. Methodological articles on “subsistence crises” (Jean Meuvret) or on “the use of family statistics” (Paul Vincent) published in these first issues, became references in their field.

6The journal affirms its multidisciplinary ambition, with numerous articles on economic questions, and others which define demography in relation to other disciplines such as sociology (“Sociologie et démographie” [Sociology and demography] by Jean Stoetzel) or geography (“Démographie et géographie humaine” [Demography and human geography] by Louis Chevalier).

7To mark this seventieth anniversary, we have chosen to republish four articles from 1946, one in each of our 2016 issues. Each one is accompanied by an introductory commentary that highlights the topicality, or obsolescence, of the research topic covered and, from a twenty-first century perspective, looks at how the issues have evolved over time.

8The first issue of 2016 includes an article entitled “Assessment of French immigration needs” by Alfred Sauvy (1, 1946), with an introduction by François Héran. The second issue will feature an article by Paul Vincent on “Population ageing, pensions and immigration” (2, 1946), commented by Didier Blanchet. The third article, by a historical demographer, Jean Meuvret, concerns “Subsistence crises and the demography of France under the Ancien Régime” (4, 1946), analysed by Christine Théré and Isabelle Séguy. The fourth and last article of the series, written by Jean Bourgeois and entitled “Marriage, a seasonal custom. Contribution to a sociological study of nuptiality in France” (4, 1946) is commented by Arnaud Regnier-Loilier and Wilfried Rault.

9Population has now reached the life expectancy at birth of men born in France in that same year (1946), but not yet that of women (80 years according to the cohort life tables). We wish it continued success in the future, and many more years of rewarding discovery for its readers!

All Population articles since 1946 are available in electronic format via the Population website ( which links to the Cairn and Persée portals (for the oldest issues), and to Jstor (
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