Department of History
Inter-generational Transmission of Fertility during the Demographic Transition
Friday, February 20, 2009
Engineering Building 110, 4:00 PM
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the average woman in the United States gave birth to eight children. Today the average is two. This seminar will begin with an overview of fertility decline in the United States, its causes, and consequences. It will then focus on inter-generational transmission of fertility during the period of most rapid fertility decline (circa 1880 – 1920). Was fertility between parents and their children positively correlated? Did the relationship change of the course of the demographic transition? Genealogical data in the Utah Population Database (UPDB) confirms that that women’s fertility was responsive to their mother’s (and mother-in-law’s) relative fertility and age at marriage. The demographic transition also corresponded with the emergence of inter-generational correlations in what demographers call “parity-dependent fertility” control. Daughters (and daughter-in-laws) of women who stopped childbearing after reaching a targeted number of children were more likely to engage in stopping behavior than other women in their cohort.
J. David Hacker is an associate professor of history at Binghamton University and a research affiliate at the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Hacker received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1999 and taught for two years at the California Institute of Technology before coming to Binghamton in 2002. He teaches courses in the economic and demographic history of the United States and in quantitative methods. He has published numerous articles in history and demography journals including Demography, the Journal of Economic History, and Social Science History. An article published in the journal History of the Family won the Population Association of America’s prestigious Dorothy Thomas award for the best paper published on the interrelationship between cultural, economic, and demographic variables. He is the recipient of a 5-year, $667,000 career-development award from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development to study the decline of fertility in the United States from 1800 to the present. He is writing a book on the subject, which should be finished in the next few years. Professor Hacker has been either the Director of Undergraduate Studies or the Director of Graduate Studies in the History Department every year since 2003 (he is currently the department’s Undergraduate Director).