Imputation of full birth histories from census data: a rediscovered method for the detailed analysis of fertility

Ian M. Timaeus, LSHTM

This paper presents an extension to the own-children method for estimating trends in age-specific fertility from single-round inquiries. It reconstructs full birth histories from partial birth histories (i.e. questions about women’s children ever-born and surviving). The method is a further development of one proposed by Luther and Cho in 1988. With the increasing availability of large samples of census microdata, producing reconstructed birth histories creates new opportunities to investigate the dynamics of birth intervals and estimate fertility trends within small geographical areas or population groups. The paper is divided into three parts: the first describes the method; the second assesses its performance by applying the method to a large fertility survey from India that collected full birth histories with which the reconstructed histories and fertility estimates can be compared; and the third applies the method to IPUMS-International sample microdata for several Southern and Eastern African countries on which multiple census samples are available. The method works well in India and the results from successive censuses in Africa are highly consistent. Thus, it is of value for the study of levels, trends and differentials in fertility, providing detailed estimates dating back to the onset of the fertility transition in many countries.

Keywords: Fertility and childbirth, Census data, Event history analysis, Simulation

See paper.

  Presented in Session 39. Fertility and Sexual and Reproductive Health: New Methods