Our history

The founding of INED immediately after World War II

The Institut National d’Etudes Démographiques (INED) was founded by government ordinance on 24 October 1945. Previously, in 1941, the Vichy government had created the Fondation Française pour l’Etude des Problèmes Humains or “Fondation Alexis Carrel,” headed by, and named after, that French laureate of the Nobel Prize for Medicine. At the Liberation, however, General de Gaulle as head of the provisional government decided to dissolve the Carrel Foundation, considered collaborationist, and to create the Institut National de Démographie, in accordance with the recommendations of Dr Robert Debré. Overseen by the country’s new social ministries, INED was called upon to assemble documentary materials, to run population surveys, to study “the material and moral means that may contribute to the quantitative growth of the population and its qualitative development, and to ensure the dissemination of demographic knowledge.”

Alfred Sauvy, the founder

The economist and statistician Alfred Sauvy was appointed as the Institute’s first director and held that position until 1962. In 1938, as advisor to the head of the French government Paul Reynaud, Sauvy had designed some of the first natalist policies. A commentator and writer with a strong personality, he shaped the Institute’s scientific orientations as well as its work methods. He sought from the outset to give INED a pluri-disciplinary profile and welcomed researchers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Alfred Sauvy also founded the scientific journal Population, addressed to “everyone concerned about major issues in the national interest.” He served as the journal’s editor-in-chief from 1946 to 1962.

Rise and consolidation

Under the direction of Alfred Sauvy, a “French demographic school” developed that long ensured INED’s international impact and renown. Strongly influenced by the works of the American Alfred James Lotka (1880-1949) and the Frenchman Pierre Depoid (1909-1968, the first INED demographers (mostly graduates of France’s prestigious Ecole Polytechnique) developed original methods of demographic analysis that confirmed the Institute’s scientific independence and established its international reputation.

One such researcher was Louis Henry (1911-1991), who founded historical demography. Henry was interested in fertility rates through history in France, and in 1953 he suggested using Ancien Régime parish registers to study the pre-statistical period. Working in collaboration with the archivist and palaeographer Michel Fleury, he developed a full-fledged methodology for using these data to analyse the population dynamics of France. In 1958 he launched the “Population of France from 1690 to 1829” survey, a path-breaking work that inspired many French and non-French historical demographers.

In the area of opinion polls, and with the support of Alain Girard (1914-1996), the sociologist Jean Stoetzel (1910-1987), founder of the Institut Française de l’Opinion Publique (IFOP), initiated several surveys at INED, polling the population on such questions as female labour, the ideal number of children, the choice of a spouse, immigration, and others. Stoetzel and Girard’s work was pursued by Louis Roussel in the 1970s and Henri Leridon in the 1980s.

In March 1968, when the tensions of the coming May ‘68 social crisis were beginning to be felt, INED published the first issue of its new monthly journal, Population et Sociétés.

The increasing number of INED researchers, all national civil servants (from 75 in 1965 to 149 in 1985), went together with research field diversification and the creation of new administrative services: International relations in 1972, Cooperation in 1974 and the Survey office in 1982.

The turning point: acquiring the status of research institute in 1986

By a state decree dated 12 March 1986, INED became an Etablissement Public à Caractère Scientifique et Technologique (EPST), thereby acquiring a status comparable/identical to that of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) and the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM). The pronatalist objective of 1945 was no longer relevant; INED’s new mission was the development and broad dissemination of demographic knowledge “in the interest of general economic and social progress,” and the provision of training in and through research. The Institute was now to be supervised primarily by the ministry in charge of research, with complementary supervision by the period’s ministry in charge of population questions.

The 1990s saw the rise of the third generation of INED researchers, a varied group made up of Ecole Polytechnique graduates and graduates of the Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique (ENSAE), the Institut de Demographie de Paris (IDUP) and the Ecole Normale Supérieure, as well as doctors and an increasing number of women. Recruitment as an INED researcher was now exclusively by way of a post-doctoral competitive examination. Meanwhile, the demographic issues themselves had changed with the opening up of Eastern Europe, the construction of the European Union, the appearance of new public health problems, the emergence of certain developing countries, and accelerated ageing in developed countries.

In 1999, François Héran was appointed INED director, a position he held until 2009. During this period the institution’s resources increased and its image was further strengthened and consolidated, along with its research units and projects. When Chantal Cases became director of INED in 2009, she worked to develop a considerable number of new partnerships with academic institutions.

Magda Tomasini has been at the head of INED since January 2016.

Talented researchers

Many eminent researchers have worked and made a career at INED.

Jean Bourgeois-Pichat (1912-1990) explored the notions of stable and quasi-stable populations and modelled relationship networks between demographic variables. Paul Vincent (1912-1979) invented the concept of population growth potential. Sully Ledermann (1915-1967) perfected models of various mortality table components. Louis Chevalier (1911-2001), a historian of Paris elected to the Collège de France in 1952, studied the social history of populations; Jean-Noël Biraben, the history of disease, and Jacques Houdaille (1924-2007) the history of minorities.

The work of these pioneers was presented by Roland Pressat (who joined INED in 1953) in his handbooks and dictionary of demography, which became essential reading for generations of students and spread the principles of demographic analysis far and wide, notably to Quebec and several Eastern European and African countries. The field of population genetics was developed successively by Jean Sutter (1910-1970), André Chaventré and Albert Jacquard (1925-2013). Albert Jacquard became director of INED’s Genetics office in 1970 and served as expert advisor on genetics questions to the World Health Organization from 1973 to 1985. He was awarded the Prix Scientifique of the Fondation de France in 1979 and later named Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Mérite (1980) and Officier de la Légion d’Honneur (1991).

From 1965, a new generation took over, made up once again of Ecole Polytechnique graduates—Daniel Courgeau, Henri Leridon and Hervé Le Bras—as well as demographers from a variety of backgrounds, among them Jacques Vallin, Patrick Festy, Chantal Blayo, Jean-Claude Chesnais and Thérèse Locoh.

INED directors since the Institute was founded

Alfred Sauvy (1945 - 1962)
Jean Bourgeois-Pichat (1962 - 1972)
Gérard Calot (1972 - 1992)
Jacques Magaud (1992 - 1995)
Patrick Festy (1995 - 1999)
François Héran (1999 - 2009)
Chantal Cases (2009-2015)
Magda Tomasini (2016)

Updated 07/01/2016