2014-2021: what can we learn from the migration crisis in Europe ?

Recording: https://vimeo.com/675425764/e80e8c1f97

Dear colleagues,

You are kindly invited to join the presentation on “2014-2021: what can we learn from the migration crisis in Europe?” given by François Héran on 2 February 2022 – 10:30-11:30.

François Héran is Professor at the prestigious College de France, in charge of the department on “Migrations et sociétés”. He is also Director of the Institut Convergences Migrations (CNRS). François Héran is acknowledged for his scientific rigour and a great sense of pedagogy on the question of migration mechanisms. He discusses them in a serene manner, on the basis of facts, numbers and historical perspectives. His background allows him to mobilise social statistics and the right orders of magnitudes, to analyse in depth the political discourse and the institutional texts, and to pinpoint preconceptions, ideological biases and disinformation (complot theories) in the public debate.


The asylum applications registered in the European Economic Area from 2014 to 2020 add up to a total of 5.6 million people. This is apparently huge, but it only represents an additional population of 1.1%, over the seven years combined, if we make the (maximalist) hypothesis that the rejected never leave the continent. Therefore, nothing of an invasion or a “tsunami”.

However, this increase varies greatly depending on the country, from almost 0% in several Eastern European countries to +4.6% for Cyprus. It reaches 3.4% in Sweden, 2.4% in Germany and Austria, only 1.0% in France and 0.4% in the United Kingdom. These variations demonstrate that, in the field of asylum at least, “the State is back”, contrary to the theory of transnationalism which prophesied Its virtual disappearance.

The presentation will try to disentangle the factors that explain the radical divergences in asylum policies. Professor Héran will detail the many (mutually contradictory) explanations that were given of Angela Merkel’s speech in August 2015. He will question the possible definition of a country’s “hosting capacities”, and finally comment on the way in which European statistics on migration and asylum are taken into account in national public debate and in electoral campaigns. 


François Héran holds an aggregation in Philosophy and a Ph.D. in anthropology from the Paris-Descartes University. After four years of fieldwork in Spain and Bolivia, he joined in 1980 the French National Institute for Demographic Studies (INED) and was detached at the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE). He conducted surveys on sociability, education, family structures, language transmission and migration before returning to INED and become its Director from 1999 to 2009. He presided the European Association for Population Studies from 2012 to 2016.

In 2010 he spent one year in Den Haag studying the public debate on immigration. In 2017, he was elected professor at the Collège de France (Paris) on the “Migrations et sociétés” chair. The same year, he founded the Institut Convergences Migrations, aiming at bringing together scientists from multiple disciplines to renew the reflexion on migrations from all times and all continents. This institut supports 620 fellows in a broad spectrum of disciplines.

Some relevant websites

• Leçon inaugurale de F. Héran au College de France : https://www.college-de-france.fr/site/francois-heran/inaugural-lecture-2017-2018.htm

• Institut Convergences Migrations: https://www.icmigrations.cnrs.fr/

Some recent publications in English

• 2022 “Demography and Migration”, in Caroline B. Brettell and James F. Hollifield (eds.), Migration Theory: Talking across Disciplines, 4th edition, London: Routledge, chapter 5 (forthcoming).

• 2019 “French fertility is the highest in Europe. Because of its immigrants?”, Population & Societies, 568, July/August (with Sabrina Volant and Gilles Pison), 4 p.