Krishnan Namboodiri was born in Kerala, India in 1929. He received his B.S. in Mathematics in 1950 and MS in Statistics in 1952 from the University of Kerala, India and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 1962 and 1963. After completing his training in India, he worked in the Indian Statistical Institute, a world renowned institution for research and training in statistics, as a Technical Assistant to National Sample Survey, a premier data gathering effort at the national level of India covering a broad array of topics. In 1959 he accepted a position as a Research Assistant in sampling at the Survey Research Center, University of Michigan. In subsequent years he received multiple fellowships from the University of Michigan while pursuing his doctoral studies. During his tenure at the University of Michigan, he became a student of Professor Leslie Kish, an outstanding scholar in sample survey theory and applications and of Professor Ron Freedman, who was organizing fertility surveys in US and abroad. Amos Hawley served as his research advisor. After completing his PhD, he returned to the University of Kerala as a Reader in Demography in the Department of Statistics and held this position for three years. During this period he championed a Master’s level demography training program in the Department of Statistics. In 1966, he accepted an Assistant Professor position at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Department of Sociology. For the next 15 years, he moved through the ranks to Professor and Department Chair, presiding over one of the promising periods in that great department’s history for demography training and research. In 1984 he moved to the Ohio State University as the Lazarus Professor of Population Studies in the Department of Sociology, where he stayed until his retirement in 2000. During 1989 -1993 he also served as the Chair of the department. After his retirement, he served as an Emeritus Professor until his death on April 29, 2015.
Dr. Namboodiri’ s professional activities are numerous and broad ranging. He had an illustrious career as a statistician and a demographer. He was an architect of formal methods for demographic analysis. He made innovative applications of formal methods of demography and statistics to a wide range of social phenomena. In a series of papers, he proposed modifications to existing models of fertility to make them widely applicable in fertility research and theory building. He is a proponent of sequential theories of fertility decision making. He has written or edited 12 books. Most of the books are written in a pedagogical style suitable for easy learning. A reviewer of his edited book,” Survey sampling and Measurement” commented, “Anyone who is involved in survey research ought to have it on the bookshelf. Others who are wondering what the field is all about benefit from reading it”. A review of his book, “Life Table Techniques and Their applications wrote that this book “provides an excellent introductory level overview of the state-of-the art of life table techniques. “ His book “Demographic analysis: A stochastic approach “presents an entirely new and innovative way of understanding population dynamics.
Krishnan was an excellent teacher and thesis guide. He demanded the best out of all his students. The students admired him. One of his PhD students noted, “I have the outmost respect of his intellect and the strong work ethics he displayed”. He was a collaborator and consultant with many organizations such as the World Bank, Population Council, Ford Foundation, United Nations and US National Institutes of Health. He also continued his collaborations with institutions of demographic research in India. He was an editor of Demography (1976-79) and Associate Editor of Mathematical Population Studies (1985-89) and Social Forces (1977-84). He was elected as a Fellow of American Statistical Association in 1978. In 2004, the University of Kerala honored him with a lifetime achievement Award. After his retirement, Krishnan took an assignment to translate Hindu prayers from Sanskrit to English and to his mother tongue (Malayalam). Several volumes of these translation came out before his death and his death prevented the completion of the remaining volumes.
Krishnan was married to Kadambari, his life partner for over sixty years. They had two children, Sally and Unni (deceased) and two grandchildren, Sanjay and Samresh.