Rethinking the "early" decline of martial fertility in the United States

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In this article, I rely on new estimates of nineteenth-century mortality and the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series to construct new estimates of white fertility in the nineteenth-century United States. Unlike previous estimates that showed a long-term decline in overall fertility beginning at or before the turn of the nineteenth century, the new estimates suggest that U.S. fertility did not begin its secular decline until circa 1840. Moreover, new estimates of white marital fertility, based on "own-children" methods, suggest that the decline in marital fertility did not begin in the nation as a whole until after the Civil War (1861-1865).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-620
Number of pages16
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


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