Lawrence Carter worked in the late 1980s with Ronald Lee to develop what would become the Lee-Carter model. At the time, the mathematical formulas used to predict mortality performed poorly.
Carter was born in 1943 in Washington, D.C. He received a military scholarship to study at Howard University and joined the Air Force as an officer after graduation. He achieved the rank of captain and worked maintaining radar sites. In 1965 he enrolled at the UO.
Carter had been working on the mortality prediction problem for years with little success. Demographers all over the world were looking for ways to improve them. One night Carter came up with the idea to approach the equations from a nonlinear angle instead of a linear one.
The result changed the world of demographics. The model allows very accurate predictions of a variety of population variables, such as death rates, to the aging of the work force to the need for nursing homes. It is in wide use by companies and governments around the world.
It made both Carter and Lee very well known in the academic world. They were asked to speak at conferences and meetings around the globe, but Carter never let the admiration change him.
Carter was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 55. He died last sunday at his Eugene home.