Thursday, January 18, 2007

19th century genealogical data used in scientific study

"What exasperated or overworked parent hasn't declared to a child at least once: 'You'll be the death of me!' Now we know -- with unprecedented precision -- just how true that can be."

An article this week in the San Franciso Chronicle, Genealogy study examines price of parenthood, reports on the findings of a recent study that utilizes data from 22,000 19th century families. "As raw material, the researchers, used a database of genealogical information kept by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, examining the reproductive history and survival of 21,684 couples married between 1860 and 1895. Each person was married only once, and polygamists were excluded." Along with other fascinating tidbits, findings from the study also show that younger children in a family had less chance of survival than their older siblings, and that losing a mother raised every child's risk of dying young. The data sample is said to be the largest used to estimate the cost of human procreation.

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