Changing portrait of families in France: fewer weddings, more babies

France may still be the land of love. But the country's traditional tableau of marriage and the baby carriage has changed dramatically in three decades, according to a parliamentary report released Friday.

The marriage rate in &to=' target=_blank>France is down 27 percent since 1970, according to the findings. In 2002, nearly one in two children was born out of wedlock.

And yet, there's a baby boom. With 1.94 &to=' target=_blank>children born to the average woman, France has the highest birth rate in the European Union after Ireland (1.99), according to 2005 demographics figures released last week. The European average is 1.5 babies per woman.

The glossy magazine Paris Match devoted its cover this week to the high birth rate, with a photo of French actress Judith Godreche ("The Spanish Apartment") holding her diaper-clad baby under the headline "France, champion of births."

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