Funding: National Science Foundation, 2015-2020 (SMA-1539228)
Most survey data collected during the late 19th and 20th centuries are cross-sectional – that is, they measure characteristics for large sets of individuals at one point in time. The use of cross-sectional data limits the study of phenomena that unfold over time. This project will transform cross-sectional vital records data into an extensive longitudinal dataset that covers individuals born in the United States from 1880 to 1930. The dataset will link digitized vital records (birth, death, and marriage certificates) with historical records from decennial census, bringing together demographic, health, family background, and early life information on networks of families across up to four generations. Called the Longitudinal, Intergenerational Family Electronic Micro-Database (LIFE-M), the resulting data will allow research on the economic and geographic mobility of individuals and families, the formation and dissolution of families, and the long-term effects of adverse events, public policies, and family resources on economic and family processes. These assembled data will further longitudinal analyses of large samples and subsamples of individuals and families over recent U.S. history – analyses of groundbreaking utility for social science researchers, policy makers, and policy analysts.