Korosy, József

views updated



The nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of statistics and demography as independent and influential fields of scientific study within the social sciences at large. The increasingly rich materials produced by the census and by vital statistics provided the raw materials for analytic work, but these statistical operations, which by late in the century were routine and taken for granted by their consumers in most countries of Europe, had to be energetically promoted by imaginative statistical entrepreneurs who realized the potentially high payoff of statistics put to good use. Talent for statistical entrepreneurship and for incisive analysis were often combined in the same person. In Hungary this is exemplified by four statisticians–local variants of eminent Victorians–Elek Fényes (1807–1876), Károly Keleti (1833–1892), Gusztáv Thirring (1861–1941) and Korosy. The latter's work is distinguished by his wide ranging international engagements, both as organizer of cooperation among statisticians (he was one of the founders of the International Statistical Institute in 1885) and as a developer and promoter of analytic methods. Korosy was director of the Bureau of Statistics in Pest (1870–1906), and, after the unification of Pest and Buda, of the Budapest Bureau of Statistics. He was also a professor at the University of Budapest (1883–1906).

Korosy is the author of some 200 monographs and journal articles in Hungarian, French, German, and English. Many of these assess the changing demographic situation of Hungary and include highly innovative analyses of mortality conditions, and of behavior with respect to fertility and nuptiality and interaction between these variables, notably the effect of age at marriage on marital fertility and child survival. A collection of his demographic studies (he preferred the term "demology") appeared in 1889 in Hungarian and in 1892 in German. Difficulties in providing proper international comparisons for the structures and trends he described in these studies led him to advocate standardization of data collection methods, adoption of a uniform basic statistical nomenclature, and adoption of minimum standards of statistical coverage and publication. Especially high among his objectives was the international adoption of a plan that he worked out for a world census (1891 and 1898). He pursued the objective through successive international statistical congresses. Some of these proposals were adopted, notably those having to do with uniform procedures in collecting and tabulating census data (1899) and on statistical treatment of data regarding marital fertility (1905). His analyses of mortality were chiefly aimed at clarifying the reasons for the spread of various contagious diseases and their relationship to various societal and natural phenomena (such as housing conditions) and assessing the efficiency of specific medical treatments, such as the introduction of smallpox vaccination. Korosy's solutions for the problem of eliminating the effect of age distribution differences on vital rates through standardization were influential in affecting similar work in different fields and in various country population analyses.

See also: Demography, History of.


selected works by jÓzsef korosy.

Korosy, József. 1874. Az emberi élettartam és halandóság kiszámításáról [About the Calculation of Life Expectancy and Mortality]. Budapest: Eggenberger.

——. 1881. Projet d'un recensement du monde. Paris: Guillaumin.

——. 1889. Demologiai Tanulmányok [Studies in Demology]. Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia.

——. 1889. Kritik der Vaccinations-Statistik. Berlin: Puttkammer-Mahlbrecht.

——. 1890. Neue Beiträge zur Frage des Impfschutzes. Berlin: Puttkammer-Buchdruck.

——. 1894. Über den Zusammenhang zwischen Armuth u. infectiösen Krankheiten. Leipzig: Veit.

——. 1894. "Mass und Gesetze der ehelichen Fruchtbarkeit." Vienna: Wiener Medicinische Wochenschrift.

——. 1896. "An Estimate of the Degree of Legitimate Natality." Philosophical Transactions B. Vol. 186, pp. 781–875. London: Royal Society of London.

——. 1897. Die seculäre Weltzählung. Berlin.

——. 1891, 1899, 1900. "Le recensement séculaire du monde. Etude de statistique internationale." Bulletin de l' Institut International de Statistique, Vol. 2. 220–251, Vol. 11(1): 220–250, Vol. 12(1): 78–79.

PÁl PÉtertÓth