NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Gregory Niemesh

Department of Economics
Miami University
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NBER Program Affiliations: DAE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

March 2017Revising Infant Mortality Rates for the Early 20th Century United States
with Katherine Eriksson, Melissa Thomasson: w23263
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, 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 percent. In this paper, we construct improved estimates of births and infant mortality in the United States for the 1915-1940 period 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...
 
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