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Bertillon et l’histoire des tables de survie

Collection : Documents de travail

269, 2022, 23 pages

The object of this paper is to trace the filiation which led Louis-Adolphe Bertillon to develop life tables and to examine their relevance. How does Bertillon inherit from his predecessors? How is he innovating in this area? How to assess the results he obtains compared to those of other tables which are earlier, contemporary or later? By drawing up his life tables, Bertillon clarifies his conception of statistics. For him, mathematics is a necessary but not sufficient tool: it is also necessary, in order to use it wisely, to be also a statistician. Bettillon shows himself to be a
convinced empiricist, wary of abstraction and all-out conjecture. Perhaps we find in his works the distant origin of the cleavage which will operate during a good part of the 20th century in the sciences of the population between demographic analysis stricto sensu and the theory of probabilities.

Jean-Marc Rohrbasser, chercheur retraité de l’Ined

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