Reconstruction of birth histories using children ever born and children surviving data from the 1900 and 1910 U.S. censuses

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This paper describes a method to reconstruct birth histories for women in the 1900 and 1910 U. S. census IPUMS samples. The method is an extension of an earlier method developed by Luther and Cho (1988). The basic method relies on the number of children ever born, number of children surviving, number of children coresident in the household and age-specific fertility rates for the population to probabilistically assign an “age” to deceased and unmatched children. Modifications include the addition of an iterative Poisson regression model to fine-tune age-specific fertility inputs. The potential of birth histories for the study of the U.S. fertility transition is illustrated with a few examples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)28-52
Number of pages25
JournalHistorical Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020



  • birth intervals
  • census
  • fertility
  • fertility decline

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