Fixing the Facts: Editing of the 1880 U.S. Census of Occupations with Implications for Long-Term Trends and the Sociology of Official Statistics
We argue that the enumerators' occupational returns from the important census of 1880 were heavily edited prior to publication. The effect was to substantially reduce the number of individuals reported with an occupation. For youthful and older males and all women the editing was so substantial as to qualitatively affect the apparent trend in labor force participation for these groups over time. The stylized facts regarding labor market dynamics during the period of American industrialization and the historical stories constructed around them will now need to be reexamined. We contend that the editing was secretly authorized by Francis Amasa Walker, Superintendent of the Tenth Census of 1880 and one of the most prominent and decorated economists, statisticians, and public servants in America at this time. While other scholars have identified potential sources of bias in census figures, no one has heretofore suggested that the official statistics of the United States were covertly altered to present a picture different from information collected by census enumerators. If we are correct, the sociology of official nineteenth-century American statistics will require rethinking.
|Date of creation:||Oct 1995|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.|
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Field, Alexander James, 1978. "Sectoral shift in antebellum Massachusetts: A reconsideration," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 146-171, April.
- H. L. Bliss, 1905. "Census Statistics of Child Labor," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13, pages 245.
- Dora L. Costa, 1994.
"Agricultural Decline and the Secular Rise in Male Retirement Rates,"
NBER Historical Working Papers
0055, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Costa Dora L., 1995. "Agricultural Decline and the Secular Rise in Male Retirement Rates," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 540-552, October.
- Landes, William M. & Solmon, Lewis C., 1972. "Compulsory Schooling Legislation: An Economic Analysis of Law and Social Change in the Nineteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 32(01), pages 54-91, March.
- Fishlow, Albert, 1966. "Levels of Nineteenth-Century American Investment in Education," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(04), pages 418-436, December.
- Parsons, Donald O & Goldin, Claudia, 1989. "Parental Altruism and Self-Interest: Child Labor among Late Nineteenth-Century American Families," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 27(4), pages 637-59, October.
- Claudia Goldin, 1990.
"Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women,"
National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number gold90-1.
- Goldin, Claudia, 1992. "Understanding the Gender Gap: An Economic History of American Women," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195072709, June.
- Moen, Jon, 1987. "The Labor of Older Men: A Comment," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(03), pages 761-767, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberhi:0074. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.