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Recent studies in developing countries indicate that exposure to television affects individual behavior and roles, and find that women change their fertility behavior and attitudes as a result of exposure to television. We will add a historical component to this literature, using 1950-1970 Decennial Census data to explore the impact of the introduction of commercial television on women’s fertility decisions and related socioeconomic outcomes in the United States. Outcomes to be studied include labor force participation, education, average household size, age at marriage, etc. We will undertake this research using “television question”! data from the 1960 and 1970 Censuses, with 1950 serving as a baseline. The study will also analyze how the spread of television affected the Decennial Census program itself. In particular, we will assess the extent to which the spread of television explains observed characteristics of the population in each Census from 1950 to 1970.

Francisco Javier Romero Haaker – Duke University
Erica Field – Duke University

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