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L'actuariat au siècle des Lumières. Risque et décision économiques et statistiques


  • Pierre-Charles Pradier


During the 1780’s, some mathematicians addressed economic and statistical decision problems in the same way. Condorcet and Laplace in France, Tetens in Denmark applied a unique mathematical tool to compute both the bankruptcy probability of an insurance company and the estimation risk. Such analogy is clearly of mathematical nature. Tetens’ result eventually appear modest in comparison of Laplace’s accomplishment, nevertheless it shall be recalled that Laplace spent twenty years polishing the instrument which enabled him to give his masterwork. Laplace and Tetens were probably not aware of their respective work, and the concomitance of their research is all the more exceptional when one think of Richard Price. The Englishman, although he contributed to insurance theory and statistical estimation, did not perceive the formal similarity between these two subjects. Classification JEL : A12, B19, C11, D81.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Charles Pradier, 2003. "L'actuariat au siècle des Lumières. Risque et décision économiques et statistiques," Revue économique, Presses de Sciences-Po, vol. 54(1), pages 139-156.
  • Handle: RePEc:cai:recosp:reco_541_0139

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    JEL classification:

    • A12 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Other Disciplines
    • B19 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Other
    • C11 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Bayesian Analysis: General
    • D81 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Criteria for Decision-Making under Risk and Uncertainty


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    1. Johann Nikolaus Tetens in Wikipedia French ne '')


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