Data and Code for: Local Economic Conditions and Fertility from the Great Depression through the Great Recession


In this study, we use newly compiled data on county-level birthrates in the continental United States spanning eight decades to generate new estimates of the association between local economic conditions and birthrates. Our dataset— the longest US panel dataset ever used to study fertility—allows us to estimate the response of fertility to economic shocks by using variation across local areas in the timing and severity of as many as 13 aggregate US recessions that have occurred since the Great Depression. Our area-study approach controls for potentially confounding aggregate factors such as the baby boom and advances in contraceptive technology, exploiting local deviations from aggregate time patterns for identification.The length of our panel permits us to make two additional novel contributions to the literature on economic conditions and fertility. First, we use distributed lag models to estimate midrun dynamic responses of birthrates to economic shocks—responses that are not well identified in time series and short-panel analyses. Second, we are able to document changes in the responsiveness of fertility to local economic conditions over the past 80 years. We do so systematically by using the same data and estimation model and varying the sample time frame.

Smallest Geographic Unit: US County

The data used in the paper also included restricted data from the US Vital Statistics Natality Data for 2008-2016. These data are available to interested researchers here: (application required). All other data are collected from public sources.

Metadata Access
Creator Schaller, Jessamyn; Fishback, Price; Marquardt, Kelli
Publisher ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research
Publication Year 2020
Rights Download; This study is freely available to the general public via web download.
OpenAccess true
Contact ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research
Resource Type Dataset; administrative records data, aggregate data
Discipline Social Sciences