Natality Data from the National Vital Statistics System of the National Center for Health Statistics provides demographic and health data for births occurring during the calendar year. The microdata is based on information abstracted from birth certificates filed in vital statistics offices of each State and District of Columbia.
The use of this data signifies agreement with NCHS's data use rules. Works referring to the datasets or codebooks should contain a citation to NCHS. Published material derived from this data should include a citation such as this at the bottom of the table: "Source: National Center for Health Statistics (span of years used)"
Datasets located below are separated into two sections:
- U.S. Data Files - Prior to 1972, data are based on a 50-percent sample of birth certificates from all States. Beginning in 1972, data are based on a 100-percent sample of birth certificates from some states and on a 50-percent sample from the remaining States. The number of States from which 100 percent of the records are used has increased from 6 in 1972 to all States and the District of Columbia in 1985.
- U.S. Territory Data - Birth data from the U.S. Territories Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are available on a separate file beginning in 1994. In 1998, American Samoa and the Northern Marianas were added to the U.S. Territories files.
Demographic data include variables such as date of birth, age and educational attainment of parents, marital status, live-birth order, race, sex, and geographic area. Health data include items such as birth weight, gestation, prenatal care, attendant at birth, and Apgar score. Geographic data includes state, county, city (available for cities of 250,000+ (up to 1980) and 100,000+ (1980-)), SMSA (1980-), and metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties.
Population files (such as natpop91.dat.Z) contain the population counts for U.S. women 15-44, those traditionally thought to be "at risk" for giving birth. The files have 2448 lines. Each line represents the count of one combination of 51 state x 6 age x 4 race x 2 Hispanic origin of mother categories. These files are available from 1991 on. Population files are not available for the U.S. Territories.
SEER provides helpful U.S. Population data for 1969 on.
1981 is the first file with both FIPS and NCHS county codes. An NCHS to FIPS state, county, and MSA crosswalk is available.
Variable layouts are basically the same for periods 1972-1977, 1979-1981, 1982-1983, 1984-1985, and 1992-1994, though a few codes change across years.
Thanks to Michael Greenstone and Kenneth Chay for the 1975-1985 data.
NBER internal users can obtain the data from a UNIX shell at /homes/data/natality or on an NBER PC via Network Neighborhood --> NBER --> home --> data --> natality
U.S. Data Files
U.S. Territory Data Files
Report on Final Natality Statistics
Standard Birth Certificates
More from NBER
In addition to working papers, the NBER disseminates affiliates’ latest findings through a range of free periodicals — the NBER Reporter, the NBER Digest, the Bulletin on Retirement and Disability, and the Bulletin on Health — as well as online conference reports, video lectures, and interviews.
- Author: Shane Greenstein