Growth of American Families, 1960 (ICPSR 20001)

Alternate Title:  1960 GAF

Principal Investigator(s):


The 1960 Growth of American Families survey was the second in a series of two surveys that measured women's attitudes on various topics relating to fertility and family planning for 3,256 currently married White women aged 18-44 living in private households, previously married White women aged 23-44, who were married and living with their husband in 1960, and currently married non-White women aged 18-39, living with their husband. Main topics in the survey included residence history, marital history, education, employment and income, parent's characteristics, religiosity, siblings, attitude towards contraception, past use of contraceptives, fertility history, fecundity, attitudes and opinions on childbearing and rearing, desired family size, fertility intentions, and fertility expectations. Respondent's were asked to give detailed information pertaining to their residence history dating back to their birth. They were also asked if they ever lived on a farm. Respondents were also queried on their marital history, specifically, when their marriage(s) took place, ended, and how they ended. Respondents were asked to report their level of education, if they ever attended a school or college that belonged to a church or a religious group, and if so, what specific church or religious group. Respondents were also queried about their employment and income. Specifically, they were asked to report their own and their husband's occupation and industry. They were also queried on whether they worked between their pregnancies and if the work was part-time or full-time. They were asked to state their total family income and their husband's earnings. Characteristics of the respondent's parents were also asked for including nationality, occupation while respondent was growing up, and religious preference. Respondent's religiosity was also explored with questions about religious activities in their daily lives, as well as her own and her husband's religious preferences. Respondents were asked if they had attended Sunday school as a child and if their children currently attended Sunday school. Respondents were asked how many brothers and sisters they had while growing up as well as their attitude on the number of siblings in their household. Their attitude toward contraception was measured with questions that asked if it would be okay if couples did something to limit the number of pregnancies they had or to control the time when they get pregnant. They were also asked if they approved of couples using the rhythm method to keep from getting pregnant. They were also queried on what specific types of contraception they had used in the past and between pregnancies. Furthermore, they were asked if they ever used methods together. Fecundity was also explored with questions about whether they or their husband had had treatments or an operation that made them sterile. Respondents were also asked what they thought was the ideal number of children for the average American family. Desired family size was queried in a number of other ways including the number of children the respondent and her husband wanted before marriage, how many children the respondent wanted a year after the first child was born, and how many children the respondent expected in all.

Series: Growth of American Families Series

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

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GROWTH OF AMERICAN FAMILIES, 1960, Dataset 0001 - Download All Files (32.424 MB)

Study Description


Whelpton, Pascal K., Arthur A. Campbell, and John E. Patterson. Growth of American Families, 1960. ICPSR20001-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-09-25.

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This study was funded by:

  • Rockefeller Foundation

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   adoption, attitudes, birth, birth control, education, family history, family planning, family size, fertility, income, job history, marriage, population growth, pregnancy, religious beliefs, reproductive history, sexual behavior

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1960

Date of Collection:  

  • 1960

Unit of Observation:   individual

Universe:   The universe was made up of (1) currently married White women aged 18-44, living in private households, who were either living with their husbands or temporarily separated because of their husband's military service, (2) previously married White women aged 23-44, who were married and living with their husband in 1960 (except for temporary separation due to military service), and (3) currently married non-White women aged 18-39, living with their husband (except for temporary separation due to military service).

Data Types:   survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The original variable names, as documented in the codebook, have been changed. However, the original variable names may be referenced and can be found in brackets at the end of each variable label. Because these variable names are simply the letter "V" followed by the variable number, they correspond to the variable number column in the codebook index.

The following variables have undocumented codes: INT_MAT



For variable H60_ED_HIGRADE55, one code, 98, is undocumented. Based on the frequencies given in the original study documentation, it appears these values should have been coded 99 - "N.A."

Additional information regarding this study is available from the Data and Information Services Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Sample:   Using an area probability sampling method, 3,782 eligible women were selected from 8,426 occupied dwelling units. Of the eligible women, 6 percent refused to be interviewed, and 6 percent were unavailable either because they were not at home after repeated follow-up visits or for other reasons.

Mode of Data Collection:   face-to-face interview

Response Rates:   Of the 3,782 eligible women, 3,322 completed interviews were collected yielding a response rate of 87.8 percent. Of the 3,322 completed interviews, 66 were removed from the dataset because it was determined that the respondents did not meet the marital status requirement in 1960, resulting in the final total of 3,256 valid interviews.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Created online analysis version with question text.


Original ICPSR Release:  

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