Bortkiewicz, Vladislav

Bortkiewicz, Vladislav Iosifovich


Born Aug. 7, 1868, in St. Petersburg; died July 15, 1931, in Berlin. Economist and statistical theoretician. A Pole by family origin. Studied in St. Petersburg.

Bortkiewicz became a professor in Strasbourg in 1895; from 1899 to 1901 he taught in the Alexander Lycée in St. Petersburg, and from 1901 to the end of his life he was a professor at the University of Berlin. His works deal with theoretical, primarily mathematical, statistics; the theory of probability; the application of statistical-mathematical methods in social research; and theoretical economy. Bortkiewicz investigated questions of the theory of dispersion (in connection with the so-called stability of statistical rows) and statistics on population, income, morals, and insurance. He discovered and formulated the law of small numbers for cases of rare occurrences (1908); this law then became a part of the theory of statistics. Bortkiewicz’ work on indices (1924) is interesting. His efforts in the area of theoretical economy (mainly critical works) have less significance. However, Bortkiewicz himself did not hold a definite theoretical position but tried eclectically to combine the objective and subjective theories of value, nominalist and metallic theories of money, and so on.


“Kriticheskoe rassmotrenie nekotorikh voprosov teoreticheskoi statistiki.” In O teorii dispersii. Compiled by N. S. Chetverikov. Moscow, 1968 (Russian translation).
“Die geldtheoretischen und wahrungspolitischen Konsequenzen des ‘Nominalismus.’ ” Jahrbuch für Gesetzgebung, Verwaltung und Volkswirtschaft im Deutschen Reich, fascicle 4. Leipzig, 1906.
“Die dispositätsmasse der Einkommensstatistik. . . .” Bulletin de l’Institut international de statistique, vol. 25, books 1–3, The Hague, 1930.


Detailed bibliographies of Bortkiewicz’ works are cited in obituaries by O. Anderson (Zeitschrift für National ökonomie, vol. 3, 1932) and R. Meerwart (Bulletin de l’Institut international de statistique, vol. 26, book 1, The Hague, 1936.).