Fertility and Family Planning


Wendy D. Manning, Bowling Green State University

Learning Goals


The objective of this assignment is to have you conduct some simple crosstabulations using U.S. census data and interpret your results. After using this module, students will gain skills in:

  • Using software to access and analyze census data Identifying independent and dependent variables
  • Employing control variables
  • Quantitative writing
  • Learning how to construct, read, and interpret bivariate tables displaying frequencies and percentages
  • Identifying population trends over time
  • Using real world data to enhance and support key course concepts


  • This exercise will help you understand patterns of U.S. fertility as you investigate these patterns for yourself.
Context for Use

This exercise was developed for use in an upper-level sociology course. In this exercise, students will work in groups of 2-3 to analyze data of 1 of 16 issues relating to fertility and demographic trends.

Students will gain an understanding of the change in fertility patterns in the U.S. through an examination of the change of marital status among females, childbearing trends, and how such variables are affected by race/ethnicity. Women's earnings, their poverty rates, and their number of children will also be studied. Data from Ohio will be compared to national data.

Teaching Notes and Tips

This activity uses eight customized data sets, two made from the 1990 Census and six from combining census information from 1950-1990. It guides students through data manipulation using WebCHIP software found at DataCounts!. To open WebCHIP with the dataset for the activity, please see instructions and links in the exercise documents under teaching materials. For more information on how to use WebCHIP, see the How To section on DataCounts!