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Kārlis Balodis — outstanding demographer

Keywords: Kārlis Balodis, demography, mortality, demographic burden
Language: In Latvian

The article is an analytical summarisation of the most significant works of Kārlis Balodis (Carl (Karl) Ballod, 1864–1931) in population statistics and demography. The article focuses on two main works by K. Balodis on population vitality, mortality and life expectancy and age composition and demographic burden. In 1897, he published a book in Russian jointly with a doctor and statistician Ludwig Besser, Mortality of the Ortodoxy population of both sexes, their age composition and longevity in Russia in 1851–1890 in which he described in detail the level of mortality in Russia and in other countries. The strength of this book is in its historical depth and novelty. Materials collected and analysed by them showed that mortality in Russia was significantly higher than in developed countries. The authors received the Grand Gold Medal of the Russian Academy of Sciences as well as Dmitry Tolstoy Prize.

The forerunner of the concept of demographic burden and dependency ratios is a book written in German by Karl Ballod 106 years ago, the title of which can be translated as Statistical outlines, including demographic, economic, financial and commercial statistics. The author called ratios Belastungskoeffizienten, or coefficients of burden defined as the ratio of children and old persons to prime-age adults. This publication was recognised as important and innovative. However, it was ignored for a few decades in demographic literature in English and some ratios were independently reinvented later.

The article also deals with some other K. Ballod’s publications in demography, which are less known. The author concludes that it would be useful to translate some of his works into Latvian.