The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Lotka, Alfred James (1880–1949)

  • Joel E. Cohen
Reference work entry


Alfred James Lotka was a many-sided scientist who pioneered the mathematical theory of population. He created the demographic theory of stable populations as a special case of a general theory of renewal. He developed and applied to contemporary demographic data the important concepts of net rate of reproduction and intrinsic rate of natural increase. He created and analysed mathematical models of predation and competition that remain influential in theoretical ecology and proposed a comprehensive physico-chemical view of evolution. He also evaluated the expected value of lifetime earnings of workers of specified ages, analysed mathematical models for the epidemiology of malaria, and calculated rank-size distributions of scientific productivity.

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel E. Cohen
    • 1
  1. 1.