Fertility, Economic Development, and Health in the Early Twentieth-Century U.S. South

Cheryl Elman, Andrew S. London, Robert A. McGuire

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Between 1880 and 1910, fertility among African-American women dropped more precipitously than among white women, although black women's sociodemographic profile generally would not have predicted that trend. According to one perspective, regional differences in the timing of voluntary fertility control accounted for discrepancies by race. According to another, poor southern maternal health disproportionately affected African-American women's fecundity, reducing their fertility. Tests based on the 1910 ipums and the 1916 U.S. Plantation Census show that, during the first three years of marriage, African-American women's probabilities of having at least one birth, compared to white women's probabilities, declined as marital durations increased. However, the probability of having at least one birth was lower for African-American and white tenant-farm women whose counties had more plantation agriculture. Findings support the influence of health-related factors, possibly linked to plantation agricultural development, on the "supply" of children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-223
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Interdisciplinary History
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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