Monday, July 11, 2016

Maternal Deaths


I am helping a researcher who is looking for statistics on maternal death from abortions in the 1930's and 1940's. She has found some information for B.C. (from B.C. Vital Statistics), but she is interested in similar statistics for Ontario, or for Canada as a whole.

While searching the StatsCan site, I found the following notice. StatsCan has data from 1970 to 2006, and CIHI now provides access to this data:

I guess the real question is which agency (or agencies) would have data for the 1930s and 1940s. Any advice would be appreciated.

There are some digital collections of the Ontario, Office of the Registrar General – Vital Statistics made available online at the Internet Archive:

The chances of obtaining reliable figures would be somewhere in the vicinity of nil owing to the fact that abortion was prohibited until the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1968-69. You might actually be better off exploring crime statistics to see how many doctors and others were charged (one famous case being

There is a very good chapter (Chapter 2, “Abortion as Birth Control”, pp. 32-53) in the following book which outlines many of the issues influencing the availability and reliability of statistics on maternal deaths due to abortion in Canadian history. 
McLaren, Angus, and Arlene Tigar McLaren. The Bedroom and the State: The Changing Practices of Contraception and Abortion in Canada, 1880-1997. (2nd ed.) Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1997.
Here are two snippets of info from the book that might be useful:
“In a 1934 study of 334 maternal deaths in one year in Ontario, an important finding was unearthed. Researchers found that fifty-nine, or 17 percent of all maternal deaths, were due to abortion.” (Phair & Sellers, 1934, as cited in McLaren & McLaren, 1997, p.45)
Original research article cited:
J.T. Phair and A.H. Sellers, “A Study of Maternal Deaths in the Province of Ontario.”Canadian Public Health Journal, 25 (1934), pp. 563-79.
“It is not easy … to pin down the number of abortion deaths. How a maternal death was classified depended ultimately on the differing judgements and conflicting concerns of doctors, coroners, and magistrates. There are indications that only two of every three abortion deaths were reported by vital statistics and presumably even a lower ratio of deaths known to medical authorities may have come to the attention of legal authorities.” (p. 45)
“We have established that in the three decades between 1920 and 1950 probably close to 500 women in British Columbia died as a result of abortion-related deaths.” (p. 51)
Citing their own research article:
McLaren, Angus, and Arlene Tigar McLaren. “Discoveries and Dissimulations: The Impact of Abortion Deaths on Maternal Mortality in British Columbia.” BC Studies, 64 (1984/85), pp. 3-26. Available online from:

Labour Market Forecast Data


We’ve got a request for labour market forecast data for curator positions in Canada. The researcher basically wants the Canadian equivalent of these US data. Does this exist anywhere?


Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly HRSDC) maintains the Canadian Occupational Projection System, which I believe is what your user is looking for in this case:

Monday, July 4, 2016

CCHS 2012 - Mental Health variable, Household Income


My researcher initially asked if a 15-year-old could have been responsible for answering questions about household income, but I'm wondering, more broadly, if someone who is under 18 or even someone who is not considered one of the heads of the household could be responsible for answering household questions.

It started with this question, "I am using the Canadian Community Health Survey - Mental Health (2012; CCHS-MH, 2012) data set, and I have a question. The age of respondents begins at 15, and goes to 90 and above. I note in the user guide, it says no proxy interviews were permitted. I am wondering, for the income variables ( ex. total income in the household), were 15 year olds responsible for providing this?"

After some back-and-forth, it turns out that she's interested in people aged 15-29, and wondered why she had so many of them seem to be in a higher-than-expected income group (using household income). I replied that although she's able to pull out the age group in question doesn't mean they were living alone (i.e., every member of the household influences household income) and I have suggested she might want to consider the individual income variable. I'm waiting to hear from her to see if there is any follow-up to that suggestion.

So barring anything unexpected, I think I've actually found a solution for her research (not that hard, I admit), but a general question remains unanswered in my mind: is there an age-cutoff for answering the household questions? I looked at the questionnaire and the data dictionary, and see that when someone starts answering the questions they are rejected if they are under 15. I also see that in section 5.4 of the User's Guide, "The interview," there is a statement indicating that "a knowledgeable household member was asked to supply basic demographic information on all residents of the dwelling. One member of the household aged 15 years or older was then selected for a more in-depth interview, which is referred to as the C2 interview." In 5.4 e) Proxy interviews, the UG says that no proxy interview were permitted. This, I believe, is where my researcher's confusion stems.

Can someone confirm for me that the income questions would have been asked of the person most knowledgeable of the household? I feel like a dork for even asking, since it seems pretty obvious (I've read the Income Imputation section, btw), but I'd rather be safe than sorry.


This pertains to CCHS Mental Health, so this response does not apply to the Annual.

As stated in the User Guide, the beginning of the survey is done by a knowledgeable person in the household. The interviewer is instructed to ask for a knowledgeable person when they first make contact with the household. This person completes the household roster so we get the most accurate information on name, age, sex, & marital status (the “basic demographic information”) of all household members. Then we do the selection of the survey respondent. The respondent does the rest of the survey themselves and income is part of that. Therefore, income is asked to 15-year-old respondents. If they don’t feel qualified to answer the question, they do have the option to say “Don’t know” or “Refuse”, as with any other question on the survey. Income was imputed when there was a non-response.