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Famous scholars from Kiel:

Oskar Anderson

The economist and statistician is regarded as one of the driving forces for empirical economic research in Germany. He worked at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy from 1942 until 1947. He would have been 120 years old this year.

Oskar Anderson was one of the most respected economists and statisticians of his time. Professor Hans Kellerer (1902-1976), the successor to his chair in Munich, described him in his obituary as the most remarkable character amongst the representatives of statistics at German higher education establishments. "It is thanks to Anderson that the teaching of statistics at the economic sciences faculties in Germany re-established itself at the general international level" according to Kellerer.

The achievements of Anderson continue to have an effect, says Professor Roman Liesenfeld, Director at the Institute for Statistics and Econometrics in Kiel: "He introduced methods of mathematical statistics to economic research, which we are still using today. They help us undertake research into the business cycle or for example to assess the success of labour market political measures. Above all Anderson prepared the ground in Germany and in particular also in Kiel for empirical economic research."

Anderson, born on 2 August 1887 in Minsk, White Russia (now Belarus) and the son of a university professor, pursued an academic career, which took him to various Eastern European countries and universities, such as the renowned National Economic Faculty in St Petersburg. He studied political economics and subsequently initially worked as a teacher at a commercial secondary school in St Petersburg. However, he was soon deployed in major projects, such as state fuel planning. In 1918 Anderson qualified as professor in mathematical-statistical research methods at the Kiev University of Trade. The national-political upheaval in Russia forced him to emigrate in 1920. "Constantinople in Turkey and Budapest in Hungary were stops in a difficult period of his life, during which he lost his only daughter - whilst still on the run in Russia", writes Slawtscho Sagoroff in 1960 in the obituary for Oskar Anderson. One of Anderson's sons died later from injuries sustained whilst fleeing.

In Budapest he established a higher education institute, then in 1924 accepted an offer from the Warna University of Trade, Bulgaria and taught theoretical statistics there for ten years, from 1929 as a full Professor of Political Economics and Statistics. In 1935 Anderson became the full-time Director of the Statistical Institute for Economic Research at the University of Sofia, Bulgaria.

In 1942 Anderson was appointed full Professor of Statistics at Kiel University. At the same time he ran the Department for Research in the East at the Kiel Institute for World Economics. About his time in Kiel Sagoroff wrote: "The devastation of the aerial bombardment of Kiel and the death of one of his sons on the battle field in Tunis shook him emotionally and weakened him enormously physically as well. He therefore left Kiel in 1947 with a feeling of release to take up a position at the University of Munich." He remained there until his retirement in 1956. Anderson died on 12th February 1960 in Munich.

In addition to econometrics, his academic interest covered in particular the index theory, time series analysis, the theory and methods of sampling, correlation theory, statistical causal research as well as economic statistics. Anderson was one of the founding members of the Econometric Society and was chairman of the German Statistical Society for a long time. He wrote comprehensive academic works, which - including book reviews - totalled more than 150 titles. He was an editor of the "Mitteilungsblatt für mathematische Statistik" (Newsletter for mathematical statistics) and the publication "Metrika".

As an academic lecturer Anderson introduced his students to modern statistical methodology and explained its application in the economic sciences. Over many years he painstakingly built up a special library and participated in statistical seminars until a ripe old age. Only shortly before his death he wrote a synopsis about the significance and usefulness of statistical education in Germany, in which he proposed a change to examination procedures.


For further reading:

  • Kellerer, H.: Zum Tode von Oskar Anderson, Allgemeines Statistisches Archiv, 1960, Band 44
  • Sagoroff, S.: Nachruf für Oskar Anderson, Metrika, Zeitschrift für theoretische und angewandte Statistik, Volume 3, 1960

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