Demography: the Hérault still attracts but … where are the inhabitants concentrated the most?

Between 2013 and 2019, Hérault welcomed nearly 14,000 additional inhabitants per year, making it one of the most dynamic areas in France. Even if the trend is slowing down a bit.

It is both a boon and a headache for communities and land planners. Each year, Hérault welcomes around 14,000 new inhabitants. The latest figures published at the end of last year by INSEE confirm this dynamism driven mainly by the migratory flow, much less by the natural balance, the difference between deaths and births.

These official data confirm the attractiveness of the department, considered to be the third most dynamic in the metropolis over the period 2013-2019. They are important because they determine in particular the allocations granted by the State to the municipalities but also… the size of a municipal council.

Between 2017 and 2019, the evolution of the population by cantons and in the department.

Always the coast

With 1,175,623 inhabitants listed on January 1, 2019, it is the second most populous in Occitania behind Haute-Garonne. This growth is naturally driven by Montpellier and its agglomeration, which welcome more than half of these new arrivals and benefit from a very positive natural balance (+ 0.4%), but also by the Agath region and its high migratory surplus ( 3% per year).

“Population growth is concentrated in half of the department close to the coast” The INSEE teams report, who also underline the vitality of the agglomerations of Béziers and Lunel. Reading a department with two or three speeds in terms of demography remains relevant, even if a shift in the positive dynamic towards a second coastal strip, or even the nearby hinterland (Gignac in particular) is confirmed.

Catherine Lavaud, Insee manager: “The South still attracts, but …”

Is heliotropism still the driving force behind the observed demographic dynamism?

Hérault is one of the departments where the population increases the most at the national level. But over the period 2008-2013, the municipalities along the coast stabilized. This is the case in Montpellier but also in Frontignan, Sète, Palavas-les-Flots, Mauguio. The south still attracts but the progression concerns more the second strip of the coast. People no longer congregate on the coast where there may be a real estate saturation problem. There is competition with second homes. Our study focuses on main residences.

The progression in Montpellier appears less strong today?

She slows down slightly. But it is increasing faster than that of Toulouse, + 1.4% against + 1.2%. This is also the case for the agglomerations of the two cities. + 1.7 in Montpellier and + 1.3% in Toulouse, this is where the territory is most dynamic.

Do you anticipate a demographic effect linked to the health crisis?

The 2022 data collection will start. What we are seeing are the effects on the real estate market. But it’s hard to anticipate and say if it fits. Things don’t get done that fast, people don’t move overnight.

Montpellier intramural a little less dynamic

In Montpellier, the population growth is thus particularly spectacular in several peripheral municipalities, in particular Lattes, Pignan and Castelnau-le-Lez. Recent developments confirm this spread beyond the city center.

“Urban sprawl is going further and further. It is now where the territories are the most dynamic” notes Catherine Lavaud, head of the territory division for INSEE Occitanie. The national institute notes, however, that this upward trend has weakened slightly over the last few years compared to the period 2008-2013. This is particularly the case in Montpellier intramural and even more in Béziers and Sète, the geographical location of the unique island allowing only a very limited increase in its spread.

No part of the Hérault region loses inhabitants

The analysis of the data by canton over the last two years this time (from 2017 to 2019) indicates that no part of the Hérault territory is losing inhabitants, including in the areas of Saint-Pons-de-Thomières and Clermont- Hérault where the population seems stabilized.

Will these cantons benefit from the effects of the health crisis characterized by a distance from large urban centers in favor of certain rural areas? The dynamism of the real estate market and the examination of the declarations of intent to dispose that accompany each transaction seem to suggest so. “We will have to see in the long term. But there may also be a higher use of second homes throughout the year” underlines Catherine Lavaud. The next census campaign led by INSEE begins on January 18.

In a few numbers

● Third most dynamic department in France

Insee data compiled over a period of seven years indicate continued population growth of 1.2% per year between 2013 and 2019. This data makes it the third most dynamic department in France in terms of demography behind the Haute-Garonne (Toulouse) and the Gironde (Bordeaux).

Comparable increases are recorded in Loire-Atlantique (Nantes) and Haute-Savoie (Annecy). This evolution in the Hérault is due for 1% to the migratory balance, the arrivals being more important than the departures. In volume, this corresponds to a gain of 14,000 inhabitants per year, of which a little more than half is ignored by Montpellier and its crown.

● Weaker growth

However, this sustained demographic growth marks a decline over the 2013-2013 period compared to the previous one. If it remains carried by the “explosions” of Castelnau, Lattes and Agde, it weakens on the other hand in intra-muros Montpellier, more clearly in Béziers and becomes sluggish in Sète.

● 51% with less than 1,000 inhabitants

If we regularly focus on large urban centers and the density of the coastal strip, Hérault remains a department where small towns remain numerous. 51.1% of them have less than 1,000 inhabitants, 34; 5% count less than 500. The smallest municipality remains Romiguières, in the hinterland of the Lodges with 23 inhabitants.

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