EconPapers    
Economics at your fingertips  
 

Revising Infant Mortality Rates for the Early Twentieth Century United States

Katherine Eriksson (), Gregory Niemesh () and Melissa Thomasson ()
Additional contact information
Melissa Thomasson: National Bureau of Economic Research

Demography, 2018, vol. 55, issue 6, 2001-2024

Abstract: Abstract Accurate vital statistics are required to understand the evolution of racial disparities in infant health and the causes of rapid secular decline in infant mortality during the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, U.S. infant mortality rates prior to 1950 suffer from an upward bias stemming from a severe underregistration of births. At one extreme, African American births in southern states went unregistered at the rate of 15 % to 25 %. In this study, we construct improved estimates of births and infant mortality in the United States for 1915–1940 using recently released complete count decennial census microdata combined with the counts of infant deaths from published sources. We check the veracity of our estimates with a major birth registration study completed in conjunction with the 1940 decennial census and find that the largest adjustments occur in states with less-complete birth registration systems. An additional advantage of our census-based estimation method is the extension backward of the birth and infant mortality series for years prior to published estimates of registered births, enabling previously impossible comparisons and estimations. Finally, we show that underregistration can bias effect estimates even in a panel setting with specifications that include location fixed effects and place-specific linear time trends.

Keywords: Infant mortality; Birth registration; Vital statistics; Underregistration (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: Track citations by RSS feed

Downloads: (external link)
http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s13524-018-0723-2 Abstract (text/html)
Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

Related works:
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.

Export reference: BibTeX RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan) HTML/Text

Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:spr:demogr:v:55:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s13524-018-0723-2

Ordering information: This journal article can be ordered from
http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/13524

Access Statistics for this article

Demography is currently edited by John D. Iceland, Stephen A. Matthews and Jenny Van Hook

More articles in Demography from Springer, Population Association of America (PAA)
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Sonal Shukla ().

 
Page updated 2019-10-15
Handle: RePEc:spr:demogr:v:55:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s13524-018-0723-2