Revised Infant Mortality Rates and Births for the United States, 1915-1940 (ICPSR 37076)

Version Date: Jun 14, 2018 View help for published

Principal Investigator(s): View help for Principal Investigator(s)
Katherine Eriksson, University of California, Davis; Gregory Thomas Niemesh, Miami University (Oxford, Ohio); Melissa A. Thomasson, Miami University (Oxford, Ohio)

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This project provides the revised birth estimates, infant mortality rates, and maternal mortality rates at the state- and national-level and by race.

Eriksson, Katherine, Niemesh, Gregory Thomas, and Thomasson, Melissa A. Revised Infant Mortality Rates and Births for the United States, 1915-1940. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2018-06-14.

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National Bureau of Economic Research


Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research

1915 -- 1940

Infant mortality rates in the United States prior to 1950 suffer from an upward bias stemming from a severe under-registration of births. At one extreme, African-American births in Southern states went unregistered at the rate of 15 to 25 percent. 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.

Improved estimates of births and infant mortality in the United States for the 1915-1940 period were constructed using complete count decennial census microdata combined with the counts of infant deaths from published sources.

Time Series

Live births and deaths in the United States between 1915 and 1940.


Bureau of the Census: U.S. Department of Commerce.




2018-06-14 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:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.