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43rd Quetelet Conference, 2017

The demography of refugees and displaced populations

Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 29-30 November 2017

Centre for Demographic Research



Call for papers


Deadline for submitting abstracts: 15 June 2017 


Population displacement has reached unprecedented levels globally. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that in 2015, more than 65 million people, or one person in 113, were forcibly displaced by conflict, persecution, violence or human rights violations. Two-thirds (62%) of these 65 million people were internally displaced, one-third were refugees (21.3 million) and 5% were asylum-seekers whose proceedings were ongoing (3.2 million). This global movement concerns almost all regions and territories, but the intensity of flows and reception conditions vary considerably throughout the world. A large majority of refugees are hosted in developing countries (86% of people of concern to UNHCR). Asia has the largest number of internally displaced persons (29.4 million), with large numbers of internally displaced persons in Syria and Iraq and many refugees in Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan and Iran. In Western countries, the number of refugees hosted remains modest, even though refugee populations occupy an important place in public opinion and the debates that animate the political agenda. Recent political changes in the United States or in some European Union countries suggest that access conditions will continue to narrow and border controls will tighten in the coming years.

In this context, demographers and social scientists have a role to play, in particular by estimating the flows of displaced populations, by studying the life trajectories of these displaced persons and by improving the quality and comparability of statistics on displaced populations. In some countries, such as Belgium, there are rich administrative databases to monitor the administrative procedures of refugees. In other countries, available estimates of the numbers and characteristics of displaced persons remain based on partial registration-type data from government or NGOs, census data or surveys. Overall, beyond the mere measurement of stocks and population flows, few analyses specifically address the demographic behaviour of refugees and displaced persons. 

The 2017 Quetelet Conference will be devoted to analysing the flows and demographic behaviours of refugee and displaced populations. Communications can focus on theoretical or methodological issues (sources and quality of data, innovative sampling and analytical approaches). They may be comparative or focus on a specific region, country, or community, and be based on both quantitative and qualitative approaches.

The five main axes selected for the conference are as follows:

1 - Data issues and methods
In a world in motion, how can we reliably measure forced migration? Which sampling techniques are most appropriate in the absence of adequate sampling frames? What is the reliability of routine data, such as those collected in refugee camps? What use can be made of sample surveys and censuses? To what extent are births and deaths of refugees and IDPs registered in civil registration and vital statistics systems in the host and origin countries? 

2 - Migration routes
In recent years, the number of displaced persons has increased significantly. Has this increase been accompanied by changes in the migration routes of displaced populations? Has the tightening of access conditions in Europe encouraged the development of new routes? Among the individuals who have acquired refugee status, what is the frequency of return migration? What do we know about the migration paths of asylum seekers whose applications are rejected?

3 - Health of refugees and displaced populations
What are the excess risks of death during displacements or in refugee camps? To what extent do host and origin populations differ from the displaced populations in terms of health, including reproductive health and mental health? Is it possible to identify mortality differentials, possibly by cause of death, between these different populations?

4 - Impact of forces displacement on families and couples
How are forced displacements affecting families? What are the interactions between the experience of refugees and the formation or breakdown of unions? How do family reunifications take place in the context of forced displacement? How does the forced displacement alter fertility intentions and behaviors? What are the consequences of forced displacement for children in terms of familial environment, education and other outcomes such as early marriage?

5 - Legal provisions and life trajectories
The legal arrangements related to displaced persons are constantly evolving, sometimes suddenly. What are the consequences of changes in the legal framework on the life course of refugees and internally displaced persons? Submissions can focus here on the conditions of access to the territory (notably through humanitarian visas) and the rights of displaced persons.


Submitting a paper to the Quetelet Conference

In three pages maximum, extended abstracts will present the topic of the research, the objectives, the data and methods used, and preliminary results. They must be sent by e-mail ( before 15 June 2017. Submissions should list the full names, affiliations, and email addresses of all co-authors. Authors will be notified of the status of their submission by June 30, 2017. After notification of acceptance, papers must be submitted by 31 October 2017 (sent by e-mail  to They will be posted on the website of the research center ( in PDF format.


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