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Children’s Roles and Fertility: Late Nineteenth-Century United States

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 January 2016

Avery M. Guest
Affiliation:
University of Washington, Seattle
Stewart E. Tolnay
Affiliation:
University of Georgia, Athens

Extract

This article focuses on the importance of employment and educational roles for children in understanding major aspects of the American fertility transition of the late 1800s. It views the declining economic contribution of children to family income and the increased short-run costs of children from schooling as important factors in explaining variations in marital fertility among parts of the United States, and also for understanding the general downward trend of fertility in the late 1800s.

Data on children ever born from the 1910 census are used to analyze variations across states in childbearing among two cohorts of married white women. One cohort (those 70-74 years of age in 1910) did most of their childbearing in the period after the Civil War; while the younger cohort (40-44 in 1910) re-produced mainly in the period just before the turn of the century. Relationships between reproductive behavior of individual mothers and their own children’s roles will also be investigated through a sample of the 1900 manuscript census, based on a 1 in 750 household sample of the 1900 manuscript census (Graham, 1980). Special attention will be devoted to urban-rural variation in the effect of children’s activities on fertility.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Social Science History Association 1983

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