Growth of American Families, 1955 and 1960

Growth of American Families, 1955

Basic Information

  • Author: Ronald Freedman, Pascal Kidder Whelpton, and Arthur A. Campbell.
  • Conducted by: The Scripps Foundation for Research in Population Problems, Miami University, and The Survey Research Center, University of Michigan
  • Funded by: The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Data Prepared by: Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin, under the direction of Larry Bumpass
  • Universe: Currently married white women aged 18-39, living in private households, who were either living with their husbands or temporarily separated because of husband's military service.
  • Date of Survey: 1955.
  • Coverage: National (100% of 48 states).
  • Sample Size: 2713 completed interviews.
  • Record Weights: None.
  • Supplementary Surveys: 200 single women aged 18-24 were also interviewed, using a different questionnaire. These interviews are not available.
  • Access: Public

Additional Information

Sample

Using an area probability sampling method, 2978 eligible married women were selected from 8305 occupied dwelling units. 153 women refused to be interviewed, and 132 were unavailable due to illness, disability or because they were not at home after repeated followup visits. This resulted in 2713 completed interviews, representing a response rate of 91.1%. The universe of women represented by this sample is white, married women who are living in private households, with their husbands or temporarily separated because of military service. According to the Current Population Survey of April, 1955, there were 17,078,000 such women in the U.S. in March 1955. Comparison of the sample with independent estimates from the CPS and the 1950 Census shows a close match on such characteristics as age, number of children, education, religion, residence, husband's occupation, and wife's labor force participation.

Field Work

The interviews were conducted by around 150 trained women interviewers on the national staff of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan. The average length of the interview was one hour and fifteen minutes. This was the first national scientific sample survey to include questions about contraception, sterility and miscarriages and there was concern that respondents would refuse to answer these sensitive questions. However, only ten women refused to answer the questions on contraception; the refusal rate (0.5%) was lower than that for questions on income.

Data Collected

Women were asked questions about fertility and contraception, including contraceptive use and pregnancy histories, opinions on childbearing and childrearing, expectation of further children, etc. Background information such as marital history, education, income, religion, social characteristics, and place of residence was also collected. For the first eight pregnancies, dates, outcomes, and patterns of contraceptive use are coded. No information about specific contraceptive methods used in these pregnancy intervals was collected, although whether a woman ever used specific methods is recorded. For the first eight live births, the dates, pregnancy order and number of living children at the time of the birth are recorded. According to other information in the data, there were 24 pregnancies of order greater than eight for these women, and 14 live births of order greater than eight. Information about these is not included in the data.

Other References

Detailed results of the survey may be found in Family Planning, Sterility, and Population Growth, by Ronald G. Freedman, Pascal K. Whelpton and Arthur A. Campbell. (New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1959.), from which this abstract was prepared.

Structure of the data

The data are in a rectangular file, with one record for each respondent. Limited information on the first through eighth pregnancies and first through eighth live births is recorded in multiple variables at various places in the record.

You can click here for a file list.


Growth of American Families, 1960

Basic Information

  • Author: Pascal Kidder Whelpton, Arthur A. Campbell, and John E. Patterson.
  • Conducted by: The Survey Research Center, University of Michigan and The Scripps Foundation for Research in Population Problems, Miami University
  • Funded by: The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Data Prepared by: Center for Demography and Ecology, University of Wisconsin, under the direction of Larry Bumpass
  • Universe:
    • Currently married white women aged 18-44, living in private households, who were either living with their husbands or temporarily separated because of husband's military service.
    • Previously married white women aged 23-44, who were married and living with husband in 1955 (except for temporary separation due to military service)
    • Currently married nonwhite women aged 18-39, living with husband, except for military service
  • Date of Survey: May-July 1960.
  • Coverage: Coterminous United States (100% of 48 states).
  • Sample Size: 3322 completed interviews.
  • Record Weights: None.
  • Access: Public

Additional Information

Sample

Using an area probability sampling method, 3782 eligible women were selected from 8426 occupied dwelling units. 6% of the eligible women refused to be interviewed, and 6% were unavailable either because they were not at home after repeated followup visits or for other reasons. This resulted in 3322 completed interviews, representing a response rate of 87.8%.

Comparison of the sample with independent estimates from the 1960 Census shows a close match on such characteristics as age, education, religion, residence, husband's occupation, and wife's labor force participation. The only statistically significant difference for white women is in the category of women with no children; 12% of the white women in this sample had never borne a child, whereas 15% of ever-married white women aged 18-44 in the 1960 Census were in this category. For nonwhite women, there is a statistically significant difference in region: the sample overrepresents women living in the North Central region; there is a compensating (but not significant) underrepresentation of nonwhite women living in the West. The sample also appears to overrepresent women in the higher education categories, although the difference is not statistically significant. 

Field Work

The interviews were conducted by interviewers on the staff of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan. Respondent's cooperation on 94% of the interviews was rated as "good" or "very good" by the interviewers.

Data Collected

Women were asked questions about fertility and contraception, including contraceptive use and pregnancy histories, opinions on childbearing and childrearing, expectation of further children, etc. Background information such as marital history, education, income, religion, social characteristics, and place of residence was also collected. Contraceptive information, including methods used (but no dates of use), is recorded for the first 12 pregnancy intervals and the open interval. Outcomes and dates are recorded for all pregnancies.

Other References

Detailed Results of the Survey may be found in Fertility and Family Planning in the United States, by Pascal K. Whelpton, Arthur A. Campbell, and John E. Patterson. (Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 1966), from which this abstract was prepared.

Structure of the Data

The data are in a rectangular file with one record for each respondent. Variables for pregnancy intervals are coded in groups of repeated fields.

You can click here for a file list.