Nathan Keyfitz, professor of demography and sociology at Harvard from 1972 to 1983, recently died at the age of 96. Keyfitz was a leader in the field of mathematical demography and a pioneer in the application of mathematical tools to the study of population characteristics.
Born in Montreal on June 29, 1913, Keyfitz graduated from McGill University in 1934 with a degree in mathematics. He began working for the Dominion Bureau of Statistics in Ottawa, Canada, as a research statistician in 1936, where he would remain for 23 years.
He rose to the rank of assistant dominion statistician in the Canadian Civil Service, before beginning a distinguished academic career in 1961. His academic career took him to the University of Toronto, the University of Montreal, the University of Chicago, the University of California, Berkeley, and Ohio State University before he arrived at Harvard as the Andelot Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and of Demography in the Harvard School of Public Health. He also served as chairman of the Department of Sociology.
His pioneering work produced hundreds of books and articles in leading journals, and is credited for developing the field of mathematical demography.
Keyfitz, who was married to Beatrice (Orkin) Keyfitz from 1939 until her death in October 2009, had two children, Barbara and Robert.
A memorial service honoring the life of Keyfitz will be held at 1 p.m. on April 13 at the Bigelow Chapel in Mount Auburn Cemetery (580 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge, MA 02138).