This report presents a statistical portrait of the changing role of women in the United States during the 20th century. Data are from United States Government sources—from surveys, decennial censuses, vital statistics, and administrative records. The majority of the statistics have been published previously, either in government documents or professional journals, but are brought together here to highlight the demographic, social, and economic conditions of women.
Most data are from the monthly Current Population Survey and the decennial population censuses of the Bureau of the Census. Selected data are provided in a historical framework beginning in 1900 where available. Most statistics are shown in time series beginning in 1950 or later, however, because the Current Population Survey, the source of the largest proportion of data, did not get underway until the 1940’s, and since then has been expanded several times both in types of information collected and in sample size.
The analyses trace trends among women in the areas of population growth and composition, longevity, mortality, and health, residence and migration, marital and family status, fertility, education, labor force participation, occupation and industry, work experience, income and poverty status, voting and public office holding, and crime and victimization. Comparisons of black and white women are discussed separately, and recent data are included for women of Spanish origin.
Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.