Demographics is Destiny - Why the new Expansion should model French Population Stagnation

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DystopianAlphaOmega

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Dec 28, 2010
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The new dev diary for the upcoming expansion came out today and seems set to add a fair amount of historical events and flavour to France. However, from the dev replies to the comments, it seems as though there currently aren't any plans to model one of the most significant components of France's experience in the era - demographic stagnation.

France's demographic stagnation, at a time when most of the rest of Europe was experiencing a population boom, would have massive geopolitical implications. At the start of the French Revolution, France had, arguably, the largest population in Europe (Russia was close, and would be higher if they had 1836 borders, but still). With this manpower, France had long been one of the richest and militarily strongest nations in Europe. With the French Revolutionary ideals to finally effectively harness that power, they were able to make a serious play to dominate the entire continent. It often took multiple powers to contain them on land. Even by 1836, France is still seen as one of the strongest of the continental European powers. By the end of the game in 1936, France is still a great power, but a much diminished one. Having to rely on its overseas empire and base its military/diplomatic policy behind fortifications and alignment with British policy to stand any chance with its close competitors.

A lot happened during all this time, but the biggest shift was demographic. In the era, France would fall behind Russia, the UK, Germany, the USA, and even Austria-Hungary in population. It's a huge part of how the nation which posed the greatest risk of European hegemony shifted from France to Germany. With it, a big part of reproachment between France and Britain, as well as eventual Anglo-German tensions.

Right now, and since release, France is one of the strongest countries in the game. They start with a large core population and it grows at roughly the same rate as everyone else, so they keep their strong lead. If Germany still required Alsace-Lorraine to form, we'd hardly ever see it.

There are a lot of arguments for what caused this. The reason given in the dev reply for not implementing something like it is "It's something we thought about but ultimately decided not to pursue because the causes are poorly understood and difficult to model through scripted content." Some argue it had something to do with the relatively slower pace of French industrialization - slower industrialization meant less disruption and less urbanization. Less incentive to have many children to produce for the factories. Others argue it has to do with France's relatively high standard of living (although Britain for example had a higher standard of living but still had a population boom). A decline in religiosity as a hangover from the Revolution might not have helped, but I think it's debatable how much rural French areas had really experienced this and others, like Britain, were becoming more secular in this era as well, but still had the population growth. France wasn't the only country to have had serious losses in the Napoleonic Wars, face political instability, or begin reforming inheritance laws, but it was the one which lagged behind in population.

In terms of how it could be implemented, there are different ways to go about implementing it. Vic II originally had it as a national modifier for France. However, then if France conquered say Vietnam or Algeria, it would lead to demographic issues in those areas, which didn't make much sense. Not researching medicine early could also lead to demographic collapse (though that was more a balance thing, arguably). Later versions went with reducing the life rating of France (and increasing it for Germany) which, for already colonized territories affected population growth.

From a Vic III perspective, there could be a modifier to a culture used, if that's possible, or just have it as a modifier for France that effects core population growth, pop growth in incorporated territories, or even just pop growth overall if needed. If Paradox wanted, there could be a journal entry allowing for removing it by achieving certain policies/goals, or it could eventually time out (though this should be near the end of the game - in reality French population growth only really started matching its peers after WWII). Honestly, I'm kind of partial to the idea that maybe the French player shouldn't be able to (directly) do anything about it - forcing them to consider other options like overseas empire, strategic alliances, conquest of strategically defencible borders, etc. to maintain their place in the world as their inherent hard power wanes. Things any country can do to boost population growth (like getting happy devout or good standard of living to have good migration balance) would still work for France and could help mitigate/blunt the effects, but wouldn't negate the modifier.

Whatever the cause and the implementation though, French population stagnation should be modelled and there's no better time to do it than with the expansion focused on France.
 
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This would be nice but won't happen.
 
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I think this game needs to track the demographic pyramid for pops. This would be computationally acceptable if outside of the war recounts would be really far apart (maybe yearly).

This would allow to model war casualties and dependent (pensioneer, war invalid) increase in a much more meaningful and transparent way.
Also even if there's no definitive evidence to support that, shifting French starting population to an older stratum (say, 45 for the mode for adults) compared with other countries could limit their population growth in the early and mid game without giving them unfair country-level or culture-level penalties.

I'm not sure whether this really was the case, but it's natural to assume that the Revolution and hardships before it and War of 1812 and post-war occupation and uncertainty would significantly hit the generations of 1770, 1810 and especially 1790, sending cascading waves of low births further each 20 years, without preventing industrialization (because the workforce is mostly there, it's the fertile women who differ significantly). Picrelated.
demographic pyramid.png


Sorry for the MS Paint, I'm no artist.
 
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Failure to address this is extremely disappointing to me and gives me little hope that other "problems" with the general development of the European balance of power will be dealt with (Austria being a first rate great power all game, the Ottomans never having meaningful issues holding the Balkans, and Italy never achieving its full borders). Even a permanent flat penalty to growth for all French pops in mainland France would be acceptable; yeah, it sucks to have a penalty you can't get rid of but it's 1. historically accurate 2. extremely meaningful in terms of geopolitics and 3. gives the French player some interesting problem to have to play around rather than just being a blank slate blob of European territory like all the other ones.

To me personally this is the number 1 most important thing to model in the game relating to France. Number 2 is the Treaty of Turin (which ideally should also allow for alt-history outcomes such as Italy retaining Nice and/or Savoy going to Switzerland!)
 
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Idea: Create a land reform law which negatively affects pop growth and give it to France at game start. Make it general enough that some other countries that might have had similar issues also get it at game start.
It also allows the player and AI to get rid of it through reform.

This solves the issue of it being arbitrary or France-specific, and avoids national modifiers being used.
 
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I really don't get the point of creating a France-centric flavour pack and not including anything to handle possibly the biggest reason France is ahistorically powerful.
 
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Idea: Create a land reform law which negatively affects pop growth and give it to France at game start. Make it general enough that some other countries that might have had similar issues also get it at game start.
It also allows the player and AI to get rid of it through reform.

This solves the issue of it being arbitrary or France-specific, and avoids national modifiers being used.

Yeah, that's an interesting idea. What little I understood from this phenomenom was that it was indeed related to changes napoleonic law that mandated equal split of the land between heirs, and of course the land reform that put that law under peasant ownership.
 
Idea: Create a land reform law which negatively affects pop growth and give it to France at game start. Make it general enough that some other countries that might have had similar issues also get it at game start.
It also allows the player and AI to get rid of it through reform.

This solves the issue of it being arbitrary or France-specific, and avoids national modifiers being used.
I love the idea for the combination of effectiveness and simplicity.

Please write more.
 
Idea: Create a land reform law which negatively affects pop growth and give it to France at game start. Make it general enough that some other countries that might have had similar issues also get it at game start.
It also allows the player and AI to get rid of it through reform.

This solves the issue of it being arbitrary or France-specific, and avoids national modifiers being used.

Just to be clear on this, is this supposed to be representing the demographic impacts of the Napoleonic inheritance laws and their impact on land transfers within a family? Or is it a catchall bandage for the demographic issue writ large?

Because if it's about the inheritance laws, I do agree this would be a good move. But then that means also giving them laws and/or a national modifier that one gets rid of via a journal entry (I would presume) to handle, say, the demographic depression caused by the Napoleonic Wars and other causes that aren't already modeled through emigration, tech, or SOL.

This, though, would make a very interesting generic entry as well for any ultra-costly military circumstance. I'm looking at you, Paraguay during/after the War of the Triple Alliance, or the post-WW1 demographic shifts. And then having to tease out the relative weights of these and other circumstances that aren't already partially realized in other systems (urbanization, tech, religiosity, et cetera) and applying them to these two new mechanics/possibilities.

So it's certainly possible through relatively simple systems I would think - it's just a matter of how to best actualize on it.
 
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Idea: Create a land reform law which negatively affects pop growth and give it to France at game start. Make it general enough that some other countries that might have had similar issues also get it at game start.
It also allows the player and AI to get rid of it through reform.

This solves the issue of it being arbitrary or France-specific, and avoids national modifiers being used.
I think that's a very elegant idea, but the caveat would be that laws are very easy to get out of in a country as pluralist as France at game start. Realistically, nothing can really prevent a player to get out of a law she doesn't want, except a hard lock (which would be a unique occurrence, and I think a bad one). So it would have to provide some interesting bonus to incite players to keep it, or at least consider keeping it. But it's pop growth we are talking about, what can possibly be better than or equal to pop growth?

And in the end, whatever the actual way to implement it, you're just a Multiculturalism away from making it meaningless...
 
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The problem remains what it always was: the devs very understandably don't want to give France a magic inability to have babies just because they're France, but since there is no broad agreement on what caused the relative decline or what could have fixed it (and French governments tried various things to do so in real life), it's a tricky needle to thread.

That being said, I agree it should be represented in some form, because France ceasing to be the most powerful country in mainland Europe was one of the biggest events during this time period and the demographic decline is a key part of why that happened.
 
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Yes, the french demographic decline should be represented somehow. I would be fine with a modifier to french pops giving them lower birthrates, that could be turned off in game rules for players that want all countries to play by the same rules.
 
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I think that's a very elegant idea, but the caveat would be that laws are very easy to get out of in a country as pluralist as France at game start. Realistically, nothing can really prevent a player to get out of a law she doesn't want, except a hard lock (which would be a unique occurrence, and I think a bad one). So it would have to provide some interesting bonus to incite players to keep it, or at least consider keeping it. But it's pop growth we are talking about, what can possibly be better than or equal to pop growth?

And in the end, whatever the actual way to implement it, you're just a Multiculturalism away from making it meaningless...
The approval and disapproval for the law change by different IGs could be adjusted in a way that would make it harder to change right away, and also there could be some events or journal entries added that could help redress the situation outside of just regular political mechanics.

One thing that comes to mind, is that changing the law from it to another one could give a lot of power to landowners(since their lands and inheritances will no longer get split among heirs), which is something that most playstyles dont really want, as it makes implementing progressive policies more difficult.
 
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The approval and disapproval for the law change by different IGs could be adjusted in a way that would make it harder to change right away, and also there could be some events or journal entries added that could help redress the situation outside of just regular political mechanics.

One thing that comes to mind, is that changing the law from it to another one could give a lot of power to landowners(since their lands and inheritances will no longer get split among heirs), which is something that most playstyles dont really want, as it makes implementing progressive policies more difficult.
I feel you are on good tracks with this.

But I'll repeat myself, in the end any pop growth malus will go away with Multiculturalism. Sooner rather than later with France, except if you willingly hamper yourself.
 
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Maybe adding a special modifier for France on women's rights giving +2% labor rate and -5% birth rate except guardianship law?
This would make changes to population growth only in areas incorporated by France.

And besides the subject of discussion, there was also something like women's battalions even in Tsarist Russia, the right of conscription for women, prohibition, voluntary service, compulsory properly related to the general military law with certain requirements regarding women's rights, giving some bonuses as to conscription, but also some downsides such as a lower birth rate would be a nice alternative to some specific revolutions or possibly player paths.
 
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I think this game needs to track the demographic pyramid for pops. This would be computationally acceptable if outside of the war recounts would be really far apart (maybe yearly).

This would allow to model war casualties and dependent (pensioneer, war invalid) increase in a much more meaningful and transparent way.
Also even if there's no definitive evidence to support that, shifting French starting population to an older stratum (say, 45 for the mode for adults) compared with other countries could limit their population growth in the early and mid game without giving them unfair country-level or culture-level penalties.

I'm not sure whether this really was the case, but it's natural to assume that the Revolution and hardships before it and War of 1812 and post-war occupation and uncertainty would significantly hit the generations of 1770, 1810 and especially 1790, sending cascading waves of low births further each 20 years, without preventing industrialization (because the workforce is mostly there, it's the fertile women who differ significantly). Picrelated.View attachment 976876

Sorry for the MS Paint, I'm no artist.

This is my main suspicion as well. I wrote a while back a long post on the subject, but never got around to posting it. Seems like this would be an opportune time.

TL/DR:

Issue.
France’s adverse demographics in the 19th century was a result of the devastation from the Napoleonic wars which slaughtered a generation of French men. Coupled with falling mortality rates and a late industrialisation, French families were left with an increasing number of dependants to care for without having more resources. Economics thus mostly drove the necessity of having smaller families.

Application for Victoria 3. France should start with a population growth debuff that goes away in the 1860s. Countries that go to war should face the risk of having increasingly worse pop growth debuff the longer they stay at war, the larger the total casualty rates, and the greater the relative importance of the countries (i.e. great power vs great power = bad, great power vs. uncivilised = nothing to worry about). This simulates the adverse lasting fertility impacts of being on the losing end of a large war. It is a universal set of rules that can be applied to any nation without heavy handed railroading or overly unfun mechanics (you want a novice UK player to be able to get a bloody nose from the Zulus or whomever without crippling the entire empire).

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---------------------------------------- Main Thesis ----------------------------------------------------
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I’ve seen several discussions on France's demographics and how to properly model it in Victoria 3. More specifically, I believe France’s adverse demographics in the 19th century is often addressed with dubious explanations and theories. This unfortunately sent me into a rabbit hole to find actual data that could:
  1. Explain in factual terms why France progressively lost its demographic advantage in the 19th century, leading to the rise of Germany and UK as world/European hegemons, respectively
  2. Derive some simple and universal rules to apply in such a game as Victoria 3

To give some background context, France was until the late 18th century the most populous nation of Europe by far, giving it an edge in any war through economic and manpower means. The 19th century saw that edge progressively disappear as the UK and a united Prussia/Germany far outpaced France in terms of population and GDP. This unbalancing of the European equilibrium likely led to the world wars.

Still, in the discussions witnessed on this forum, a lot of theories have been advanced to explain France's specific case of adverse demographic trends in the 19th century. Often, these are borderline opinions rather than explanations (France lacking confidence/weak will leading to low pop growth, patriarchy (!?)). Moreover, they are a poor guide to run a simulation engine like Vic 3. Grand social theories that are stretched to fit certain facts but ignore others should also be viewed with high suspicion. Case in point, France’s inheritance laws are often blamed for the low population growth. By forcing a split of the inheritance between all male heirs, it would appear that French families would respond by having fewer children. While it would seem at first glance to explain the issue, those laws weren't specific to France or to that time period. In other word, since we can find counterexamples fairly easily, this seems to be more a case of correlation than causation. Moreover, while English sources (namely Wikipedia) mention the inheritance laws, French sources aren’t overly focused on it (just take a look at the English vs. French article on Wikipedia regarding French demographics).

Personally, I’m a sucker for numbers, especially using primary sources. As such, I’ve tried to find as many studies on demographics covering the late 18th century to the early 20th. I’ll be focusing on this one originally published in 1951 (https://www.persee.fr/doc/pop_0032-4663_1951_num_6_4_2611). The author tries to address what caused the demographic slow growth witnessed until the second world war. Using census data taken at 5 years interval on top of a few unofficial number from the 18th century, the author interpolates a demographic pyramid of France from 1776 to 1901 by sex. The author remarks that his interpolated datapoints are “within the margin of error” when compared with actual census data.

Overall, the main observations are as follows:

War. The revolutionary and Napoleonic wars caused an enormous number of deaths in France among prime age males. When looking at the population pyramid around those time periods, a large surplus of single prime age females emerges (this is actually visible as soon as 1776 and could indicate that the aftermath of the 7-year war ended 1763 were still being felt). These would likely never marry or have children, depressing the birth rate significantly.
  • The author suggests a total of 860k men killed between 1790 and 1815. This is likely an understatement given that it is based mostly on a “missing male” interpolation. Moreover, civilian deaths were also quite high, and even harder to count. Consensus seems to be closer to 1.1M military deaths and 600k civilian ones for France alone. This results in casualty rates of 3.9% (military only) and 6.0% (military + civilians) as a proportion of the initial population. By comparison, French military casualty rate in WW1 was 3.5% (4.3% including civilians). It was a mere 0.5% in WW2, including colonial troops (1.4% including civilians)! Once you put those numbers in context (5.9% military casualty rate for Germany in WW2, 8.2% including civilians but excluding German civilians in Eastern Europe), it likely explains the birth rate reversal witnessed post WW2 where France experienced a large-scale baby boom which wasn’t matched by the other European powers. See charts below for a highlight of casualty rates by the major powers throughout the major conflict of the period.
  • On a more speculative note, the number of crippled or otherwise handicapped men must have been high as well. These would have had much lower chances of marriage, reproduction, and supporting these children into adulthood.
Démographie française 1776-1901 - Guerre.PNG

Sources are an aggregation of http://www.taphilo.com/history/war-deaths.shtml, http://necrometrics.com/wars19c.htm#Napoleonic, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_in_1800, https://www.tacitus.nu/historical-atlas/population/russia.htm, among others. Levels of casualties are dubious at best, but the relative casualty levels are informative.

Fertility. While the author skims the fertility topic, mostly noting that it has already been on a declining path well before the 19th century (which seems back by this study https://hal.science/hal-02922398/document), this study here (https://hal.science/hal-01724269/document) provides strong proof of the depressed fertility associated with the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. It specifically highlights that the generation of women born between 1800 and 1804. These would have reached their prime sexual years after the wars, with a large number of “missing” males and otherwise handicapped/less desirable suitor. That generation had 1.36 children per women. However, these kids subsequently had 1.61 kids per woman, and their kids (the grand kids) were at 1.62 kids per woman. Note that the author surmises that these fertility rates are understated due to being derived from unreliable self-reported genealogy amateur work. However, I believe the low initial fertility rate of the 1800-1804 generation followed by a rebound in later generations would tend to support the devastating impact of the Napoleonic wars on French fertility trends.

Mortality. Just as the French population was reeling from the demographic shock from the Napoleonic war, overall mortality rates fell significantly. The author suggests that combined mortality rates for the 0-5 age range fell from 29% to 19% from 1776 to 1836 for females, and from 32% to 22% for males. Although different in magnitude, data from Gapminder suggests that not only was child mortality already much lower in France than in the other great powers, but that England enjoyed similar levels and trends. Overall, it does suggest that families needed to have less kids to obtain the desired number of kids.
  • Falling mortality rates weren’t confined to youngsters, although they enjoyed the largest gains. The proportions of 65+ in the population rose dramatically, both on an absolute and relative basis. From 4.4% of the total in 1776, they accounted for 8.5% of the total in 1901.
  • Since there was no real health or pension systems until late in the game, old people had to be supported by their families. This can be quite a financial strain as families would already be supporting their children.
  • The author surmised that if you solely compare the dependency ratios using 0-9 and 65+ as dependants of those of working age, you have an anomaly. The dependency ratio goes down over the time frame as falling child birth more than compensates the rise in old people. It would thus seem that French families would have generated large surplus relative to previous generations due to a lower number of kids offsetting the small increase in old folks. This isn’t witnessed in economic statistics though.
  • The author suggests though that over time, the age of dependant children should be extended to reflect a combination of child labour laws, compulsory and longer education, as well as a more technical society requiring longer apprenticeships before being productive. Increasing progressively the age of dependence to 15 makes the dependency ratio stable for kids, but results in an overall increase once accounting for the old. Thus, having less kids would have been a natural reaction to the increased costs born by families in a more complex society.
  • Some of my personal observations: the French school system was seemingly more widespread and lasting longer (more grades) than in other parts of Europe at the start of the game. This is a legacy of the Revolution. Moreover, given the lower rate of industrialisation in France and lower rural to city migrations, there would have been less choices for kids to earn a living if they can’t work on the farm. Overall, anecdotally, this would line up well with the increased costs of children leading to falling birth rates.
  • In my view, the author underestimates the old age dependency ratio, as I would surmise that in 1776, at the age of 60, you were already quite used up. Even at 60 in 1901, after a life in the mines/manufactory/farm, I doubt most could still work.

Démographie française 1776-1901 - Fertilité & Mortalité.PNG
 
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Fully support this thread!
thank you very much for the research work there!
I hope the devs will change their mind in the long run when reworking how demographic works in general.

Anyway it is unlikely they will do something for the dlc (it is a bit late in this dlc development process to add a complex system).
So I plan to mod something on that subject on a future mod I'm currently brewing.
I think there are good ideas on this thread to represent french slower demographics, nothing perfect though due to game mechanisms.

Here are my ideas, don't hesitate to add more :
- temporary modifier at start increasing dependants to workers ratio. Represent the still big number of napoleonic wars survivors unable to work and being strain on families. phased out with time.
- permanent modifier named "low fertility rate", if possible only affects french proper populations (french, occitan, bretons, franco-provençals). Maybe possible journal entry to get rid of it if going ultra-reactionnary devout State and after a long time.
- unique effects affecting France on some laws (right of women lowering further birthrate, land ownership laws lowering birthrate a bit too
Also since this mod is aiming a more global economic rework, it will change the SoL to birthrate curve, and France starting somewhat richer than most european countries will start with lower demographic growth lets say Germany.
 
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