For more than a century, statistics describing immigration and assimilation in France have been based on citizenship and place of birth. The recent concern for racial discrimination has given rise to a heated controversy over whether to introduce so-called "ethnic categories" into official statistics. In this article, I make an assessment of the kind of statistics that are available today and the rationale behind their design. I then discuss the main arguments put forward in the controversy and argue that antidiscrimination policies have created a new need for statistics that outweigh the arguments against the use of "ethnic statistics." In fact, beyond the technical dimension of this controversy lies a more general political debate about the multicultural dimensions of French society.
The Debate on Ethnic and Racial Statistics in France
Jennifer Birkett, David Bradshaw, John E. Coombes, Andy Croft, Jane de Gay, Rainer Emig, John Fordham, Chris Hopkins, David Margolies, Rick Rylance, Judy Simons, Gay Wachman, Patrick Williams, Mary Joannou, and John Lucas
Notes on contributors