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Indianapolis Fertility Study: Study of Social and Psychological Factors Affecting Fertility, 1941

PSC Data Catalog: Study Bibliographic Details:

Access to Files:Data and Documentation
Title:Indianapolis Fertility Study: Study of Social and Psychological Factors Affecting Fertility, 1941
Study Number:1237
Catalog Date:03/26/2008
Primary Investigator(s):Kiser, Clyde V.; Whelpton, Pascal K.
Abstract:The Indianapolis study is reviewed and its strengths and weaknesses examined because it was the pioneering study in the field of psychological factors affecting fertility (1940) and because most studies since owe a debt to its methodology. The analysis was made of white, Protestant women married 12-15 years. All had completed grammar school. The preliminary study provided indications, since confirmed, that sharp differentials in fertility existed by religion. A totally protestant sample was chosen to minimize these differences. The intensive interview part of the study yielded little in the way of relation of psychological factors to fertility but did provide the finding that planned births were directly related to socioeconomic status. (Measures of psychological factors were more imprecise than than they are today.) Some researchers feel that this lack of psychological correlation means that family planning is more a function of the psychological attributes of a culture or social class at a certain period of time. The richest information came in data on contraceptive use and fertility history. Condoms and douches were the most popular methods in early years of marriage and dropped only slightly with time. Diaphragm and jelly was used by about 7%, those mostly in the later years of marriage. The ''relatively fecund'' couples were divided into 4 groups: completely planned births, 28%; number planned, 14%; quasi-planned, 31%; and excess fertility (more children than they wanted), 27%. An interesting fact was that couples who used douches ''for cleanliness only'' had about the same spacing between births as those who used douches for contraception. The study also found that difference in fertility among different socioeconomic groups was almost completely the result of contraceptive practice. The proportion of relatively sterile couples was about the same in all groups. Sterility reduced potential fertility by about 27% contraception by about 67%.

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