Migration and Family Size in the US: 1850 To 1920

Caglar Koylu, University of Iowa
Alice B. Kasakoff, University of South Carolina
Jonas Helgertz, University of Minnesota/Lund University

The US was highly mobile during the 19th century due to the presence of the frontier. Much of the migration was of families since hired labor was expensive on the frontier. Families relied on their older sons to clear the land. Our previous work has shown that most interstate migration in the US was from East to West and that it slowed considerably after peaking from 1830 to 1857. The short intervals between children during the 19th century makes it possible to use the “child ladder” method to identify turning points in rates and destinations for migration of families. Our data came from a large sample of connected family trees. However, this method can only be used for families with at least two children as it relies on changes in birth places between successive births. Since a birth is required to observe a move, it also is biased towards large families and as the fertility decline spread from East to West, that would cause the volume of migration to decrease. In this paper we will use the MLP (Multigenerational Longitudinal Panel) to map US interstate migration of married couples between intercensal periods and compare the results with the maps of family migration using the family tree data. We will map the 1850 to 1860 data which is when migration rates peaked along with migration to the frontier and contrast it with migration from 1910 to 1920 which had much lower rates of interstate migration and was also after the fertility decline for much of the population in the Eastern part of the country. This will help understand further how family migration is related to family size and how that changed over time as well as how inclusion of more immigrant families affected the spatial patterns.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 77. Mapping Spatial Microdata