Edited by Jürgen G. Backhaus
Chapter 45: Etienne Laspeyres (1834–1913)
Wolfgang Drechsler Introduction (Ernst Louis) Etienne Laspeyres was Professor ordinarius of Economics and Statistics or ‘State Sciences’ and cameralistics in Basle, Riga, Dorpat, Karlsruhe and, ﬁnally, for 26 years in Gießen. Laspeyres, who held doctorates both in law and in economics, was the scion of a Huguenot family of originally Portuguese descent, which had settled in Berlin in the seventeenth century, which has confused pronunciation of his name to this day (see Rinne 1981, p. 196). He himself (probably) pronounced it as if it were German, which comes close to the Portuguese sound ‘Lass-pay-ress’ (see Meyers 1905, p. 209). Statistics Laspeyres is mainly known today for the index number formula for determining the price increase, which he developed in 1871 and which, usually combined with Paasche’s, is still in use all over the world (Laspeyres, 1871; the best short summary in Rinne 1983, p. 661; more extensively 1981, pp. 206– 209; especially accessible, 1984, pp. 56–61). Other than that, he may count as a father of business administration as an academic-professional discipline in Germany (see Rinne 1983, p. 660; 1981, p. 200), and as one of the main uniﬁers of economics and statistics by ‘developing ideas which are today by and large nationally and internationally reality: quantiﬁcation and operationalization of economics; expansion of ofﬁcial statistics; cooperation of ofﬁcial statistics and economic research; and integration of the economist and the statistician in one person’ (Rinne 1983, p. 660; see Laspeyres 1875, pp. 10, 17–18)...
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