Pioneer of social science dies aged 92

7 September 2015

The Academy of Social Sciences is sorry to hear of the death of Claus Moser, one of the most eminent social scientists of the later 20th century, combining the highest academic attainment with public service and untiring advocacy of the benefits of social research and investigation. He was President of the Royal Statistical Society in 1978 and continued his active involvement with the Society right into his later years, helping to set up and run the GetStats campaign.

Born in Berlin in 1922, a refugee from the Nazis, Moser exemplified the beneficial influence of the German Jewish diaspora in British intellectual and institutional life.

Long associated with the London School of Economics, as a student, lecturer and professor, Moser helped provide the quantitative spine of the Robbins report, commending the expansion of higher education. In the 1960s he left academe to become director of the Central Statistical Office and under his aegis both the General Household Survey and Social Trends were launched. The CSO, forerunner to the Office for National Statistics, became de facto the department for social science and Moser’s influence was widespread, both on social statistics and social research, in universities and in organisations such as Social and Community Planning Research (now NatCen) – and on the individuals he encouraged and mentored. His wardenship of Wadham College, Oxford will be long remembered.

Moser trod the corridors of power with an accomplished foot and will be fondly remembered also for his work on behalf of the British Museum, orchestras and the Royal Opera House.

Like many of his time, Moser was a sincere believer in the capacity of government to do good and saw social science as a vehicle for improving public policy and delivery.