The Fertility of American Women

By Wilson H. Grabill; Clyde V. Kiser et al. | Go to book overview

APPENDIX A DEFINITION OF TERMS, EXPLANATIONS, AND QUALITY OF DATA

Children ever born. The decennial census data for 1940 and 1950 and the current population survey data for 1952 and 1954 were based on answers to a single question on number of children ever born, which was accompanied by a specific caution that stillbirths were not to be included. The meaning of the phrase "children ever born" is clear to most people, but the enumerator was instructed that the count should not include adopted children, stepchildren, or other children not born to the woman; on the other hand, the count was to include children born before and during the present marriage, children who had died, and any other children born to the woman but no longer in the household as well as those still present. A check box was provided for answers of "none" in 1950, 1952, and 1954, after experience in the 1940 Census indicated that some enumerators made no entry on the schedule rather than enter a "0" for women who had borne no children, despite specific instruction on this point. Two questions were asked in 1910: "Mother of how many children?" and "Number now living?" The enumerator in 1910 was instructed not to count stillbirths but this caution did not appear in the question wording or on the schedule itself, and it may not always have been passed on to the person answering the question.

An indication of the quality of reporting on children ever born is available from comparisons of 665,758 pairs of matched 1950 Census "Infant Cards" for infants born in the first three months of 1950 and the birth registration records for these same infants. If the birth registration record entries of order of live birth are assumed to be accurate, then there was a net undercount of only 1.7 percent in the census entries of total children ever born to white mothers and of 7.6 percent in the entries for nonwhite mothers (table A-1). In Canada, a similar comparison was made of records involving children under 1 year old at the time of the 1941 Census and a net difference of 0.1 percent was found.1. The reporting of children ever born may be of better quality for the women who have had a recent

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1
E. Charles, The Changing Size of the Family in Canada, Census Monograph No. 1, Eighth Census of Canada, 1941, p. 274

-400-

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