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Véronique Hertrich

It is with great sadness that we announce her passing

Population Europe was saddened to hear that Dr. Véronique Hertrich passed away. She was supportive of our Network and was a member of our Council of Advisors. We send our condolences to her family, friends, and her colleagues at INED.


Official Announcement from INED

Ms. Hertrich joined INED in 1992, while she completing her PhD thesis on the Bwa people of Mali, a population group she would follow for more than a quarter of a century.

On the basis of her detailed observations, she developed an in-depth analysis of their matrimonial and family patterns prior to the demographic transition. In 1996, she published Permanence et changements de l’Afrique rurale. Dynamiques familiales chez les Bwa du Mali (Permanence and change in rural Africa. Family dynamics of the Bwa in Mali).

One of Véronique’s priorities in her survey work was to inform the populations concerned about her research findings. This included organizing short theatre sketches involving the villagers themselves.

In the 2000s she focused on the influence of young girls’ labour force participation on their matrimonial and fertility behaviour, and in more recent years she developed a particular interest in the dynamics of parenthood and childhood in rural Africa.

While strongly committed to the ongoing study of the Bwa population, Véronique was also interested in the broad diversity of national and international situations. She notably set up a large pan-African database on marriage which she used to analyse the specificities of matrimonial behaviours in Africa and the changes they have undergone since the 1950s. In 2017, she published her findings in Population and Development Review, in an article entitled “Trends in age at marriage and the onset of fertility transition in sub Saharan Africa”, now a reference in its field. The data are now included in the World Marriage Database of the United Nations. Véronique was also happy to broaden her horizons, studying causes of death in Russia and the Baltic countries. Here too, she has left us a valuable legacy.

Véronique Hertrich always sought to build close ties with her numerous colleagues in the countries concerned. She also emphasized the importance of considering gender questions, which are key to understanding demographic behaviours; she was among the first active contributors to the work of INED’s new Demography, Gender and Societies research unit.

Alongside her scientific activities, Véronique Hertrich worked constantly to ensure that the Global South occupied its rightful place on the INED research agenda. She headed the Population and Development research unit from 2006 to 2008 and set up the “Pôle Suds” methodological unit in 2009. As part of her work with this unit she organized numerous scientific meetings, often to compare the experiences of North and South, and set up several training modules. In 2015, despite her declining health, she championed the creation of DemoSud, a research unit devoted to the populations of the Global South which she led jointly with Géraldine Duthé until the end of 2018.

Véronique Hertrich was an excellent organizer. in 2001 she was appointed as coordinator of the national organizing committee for the 2005 International Population Conference. She soon became its lynchpin, deploying her energy, conviviality and management skills to remarkable effect. For everyone concerned, the 2005 Conference was a resounding success.

On behalf of INED, we offer our deepest sympathy to Véronique Hertrich’s son and family, and once again express our great admiration for this fine researcher, who was known and highly valued in the international scientific community.