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Demetrios Papademetriou, Top Scholar on Migration, Dies at 75

demetrios papademetriou migration policy institute
Demetrios Papademetriou was a leading scholar on migration. Credit: the Migration Policy Institute

Demetrios Papademetriou, a leading scholar on international migration, passed away last Wednesday at the age of 75 according to a statement released by the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), where he served as President Emeritus until his death.

He is survived by his wife Margie McHugh, who is also an influential scholar on migration, and his two children, Niko and Natalie.

Papademetriou has published over 275 books and countless academic articles on the topic of international migration, and has served as an advisor on topics of migration for governments and organizations.

An immigrant himself, the Greek scholar was born in the city of Patras and moved to New York City at the age of 18. Having experience migration first hand, Papademetriou approached the complex topic with a nuanced perspective.

Although he built a family and successful career in the US, Papademetriou never forgot his Greek roots, and frequently visited his home country. He was particularly fond of traditional Greek food.

Demetrios Papademetriou has advised governments, organizations on migration

“Demetri was a larger-than-life figure who dedicated his life to understanding the complex nuances of international migration in all its forms. He used that knowledge to advance pragmatic, smart immigration and immigrant integration policies that work in the interest of all elements of society,” said MPI President Andrew Selee.

Papademetriou co-founded MPI, which is based in Washington DC, in 2001 with the hopes of creating a non-political organization dedicated to examining international migration through research and analysis and fostering dialogue.

He then went on to found MPI’s sister organization, the Migration Policy Institute Europe, which is based in Brussels.

“As we mourn the passing of this giant in the field, we know that his thought leadership and influence will live on through his published works and the countless people he advised and mentored over his distinguished career,” Selee said of the Greek scholar.

Papademetriou was known for providing governments insight into managing migration without approaching the subject with a particular ideology.

“Demetri accomplished a tremendous amount during his influential career. One of his most important acts was recognizing that the immigration field was missing an essential element: A research and policy ideas lab that brought together in one place exceptional, evidence-based research with true knowledge of the policymaking world and its political realities. MPI was the result, and its work is as relevant today as it was at its founding twenty years ago,” said Lidia Soto-Harmon, who is Chair on the MPI Board of Trustees and collaborated with Papademetriou when he was the Director for Immigration Policy and Research at the Department of Labor in the 1990s.

The Greek scholar provided insight into integration and migration of immigrants to the US, Canada, Mexico, Germany, and Australia, and he has testified before the US Congress.

Throughout his life, he taught at several prestigious American universities, including the University of Maryland, Duke University, American University, and the New School for Social Research.

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