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There Is a




ASIDE from migration, the increase of population depends on

the margin by which births exceed deaths. Formerly these were largely "natural" phenomena, with which the human will tion Ques- had little to do. Population growth was an uncontrollable matter like weather, which set the student of society no problems because there was no way by which he could influence it. In the course of forty years, however, certain forces have come into play among the advanced peoples which have greatly affected both birth rate and death rate. The sociologist has good reason, therefore, to grapple with "the population question."


in the Sav

man Life


Owing to the great advances in medical science and the arts of ing of Hu- healing and surgery, the better education of physicians, improved public sanitation, the greater enlightenment of people in hygienic matters, the rising plane of comfort and the smaller proportion of infants in the population, the advanced peoples cut down their mortality from a quarter to as much as two-fifths in the third of a century before the outbreak of the World War.


ing Success in Saving Babies

The reduction of the mortality during the first years of life has, indeed, been sensational. The first census taken by the Japanese in Formosa indicated that the Chinese there lose one-half their children before they are six months old. Some years ago regularly a third of the Russian babies and a fourth of the Bavarian babies failed to live as long as one year. On the other hand, in the best Scandinavian or American communities not more than one infant in twenty fails to survive the first year, and in New Zealand, where the baby-saving campaign has been pushed farther than anywhere else, there are cities which lose but one infant in 26!

Baby-saving, besides preserving many sound constitutions, enables some of inferior stamina to reach maturity, so that the very

success in conserving younger lives adds to the difficulty of re- CHAP. III ducing the mortality of older lives. Moreover, there is no doubt Baby-sav ing Adds that individuals are enabled to survive and reproduce themselves to Dimwho transmit to their children a poorer physical inheritance than cof was found among those who grew up before the art of infant- Adults saving was so advanced.


ing Lowers

the Average Stam

ina of a


Compare, for example, America and China in respect to nat- Baby-sav ural selection. Out of ten children born in America, at least seven reach maturity. Out of the same number born in China, only two grow up. The Chinese lose the three weakest just as we do, but in addition they lose five more who can survive under American conditions but not under Chinese conditions. If at birth the white infants and the yellow infants are equal in stamina, the two Chinese who grow up ought to possess greater strength of constitution than the seven whites who grow up. As parents, the latter cannot be expected to transmit as valuable a physical heredity as the former, so that, in respect to toughness of physique, the people with the less searching and relentless elimination of the weaker infants is at a disadvantage. The proper moral to draw from this is not to relax our efforts to prolong life, but to apply the principles of eugenics to reproduction.


The greatest fecundity of which we have statistical measurement is to be found in Russia, British India, and French Canada. Whole populations here show an average of 50 births per thousand annually, while there are communities in which the birth rate 555 or even 60! Now, the lowest mortality possible in a population containing so large a proportion of young lives is 25 or 30 per thousand. So that the maximum rate of increase of man under the most favorable conditions is about 3 per cent. yearly. This means that the population doubles in about 25 years, or expands in a century to sixteen times its original volume.


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Law of

A century ago Robert Malthus startled the world by demon- Malthus's strating that, following its natural bent, the human race multi- Population phes faster than it can increase its food supply, the result being that population tends ever to press painfully upon the means of subsistence. So long as mankind reprod

If freely, num

Checks or


CHAP. III bers can be adjusted to subsistence only by such destructive Positive agencies as war, famine, vice, and disease. To be sure, this Prudential ghastly train of ills may be escaped if only people will prudently postpone marriage. Since, however, late marriage calls for the exercise of more foresight and self-control than can be looked for in the masses, Malthus painted the future with a sombreness which gave political economy its early nickname of "the dismal science."

In the Reproduction of Every

Species Nature Provided a "Factor of

Safety "'

The Hu

man Species Has Three

tive Capacity It

Can Safely




His early critics could not conceive that a benevolent Creator would send man into the world with a fatal propensity to overmultiply. Darwin, however, after reading Malthus, conceived the idea that every species becomes involved in a struggle for existence because all species bring forth more young than ordinarily can be brought to maturity. The doctrine of organic evolution has repaid Darwin's debt to Malthus by explaining why every living form tends to multiply to excess.

A species inherits the impulse and capacity for greater reproduction than it needs for continuance under ordinary circumstances because it had to have enough to get past the worst conditions it has ever encountered. No doubt countless species or varieties have become extinct because they did not reproduce fast enough to survive certain crises. All the forms we see about us to-day are those which had in their reproductive constitutions a sufficient factor of safety."

The specific fecundity of mankind became established hundreds of centuries ago and insured it the power of expanding even under Times the the hard conditions of primitive life. In the most advanced stage Reproducof civilization this capacity is about four times what man needs in order to maintain his numbers and three times that which will Use Under cause population to grow about as fast as the food supply can be augmented. Hence, for man to shut his eyes and propagate without taking thought for the morrow is to act as if he were living in olden times when a twentieth of the population died in a year instead of to-day when not over an eightieth dies in a year. For him to let himself go in respect to the instincts centering about reproduction is almost as disastrous in its effects as for him to give free rein to his pugnacious instinct, his destructive instinct, or his acquisitive instinct.




Through the mid-part of the nineteenth century the lesson Malthus sought to drive home was obscured by the fact that, although the population was multiplying freely, life was getting easier. In the course of the century Europeans much more than doubled in number and yet were better fed than at the beginning. The explanation, however, is not that Malthus was all wrong, but that the art of agriculture was making giant strides and that, out on the expanding frontiers of the white race, great virgin tracts were brought under cultivation while steam transportation enabled their produce to be hurried to the bare larders of the Old World. Since no one perceives where the twentieth century is to find its Mississippi Valley, Argentina, Canada, or Australia to fill with herds or farms, it is necessary for the whites to slacken their rate of increase or to give up most of their social gains and go back to their old hard lot.

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The Birth

Rate of

All Civil

ples has

While, owing to the great lowering of the death rate, most of the advanced peoples were, at the threshold of the World War, increasing perhaps faster than ever before, the behavior of their ized Peobirth rate is profoundly significant. A marked sag in fecundity Fallen made its appearance in France about sixty years ago. In 1878, when the famous Bradlaugh-Besant lawsuit gave wide publicity to the idea of birth control, births began to decline in England and in the next thirty-five years they fell off a third. In the next decade the child crop began to be curtailed in Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. Before the close of the century Finland, Italy and Hungary swung into line, while in the first decade of the twentieth century the militarists of Germany and Austria became agitated over "our diminishing fecundity." In the United States, despite an immense influx of early-marrying and fecund immigrants, the proportion of children under 5 years to women of child-bearing age shrank 35 per cent. between 1860 and 1910. In comparison with 1800, the proportion of children seems to be about one-half.


In Our Democracy a Large Family Impedes "Rising in Life "

Many Bear

in Order
to Gratify

The Advance of


able to Excessive


The root causes of the spreading aversion to large families are certain tendencies characteristic of modern society.


One of these is democracy. Caste barriers are down so that more and more a man's standing depends upon himself. The lists of life are open to all and the passion to "succeed" grows with the value of the prizes in view. Never before have so many common people strained to reach a higher rung in the social ladder. But children impede such ascent, so the ambitious dread the handicap of an early marriage and a large family. As for the unselfish, who aim only to assure their children a good start, they will not desire more children than they can equip well for the battle of life.

Owing to the break-up of custom, our economic wants expand faster than ever before. People will not limit themselves to the traditional standard of comfort of their class. Wants and tastes once confined to the social elect spread resistlessly downward and infect the masses. Advertising, window-dressing, conspicuous consumption, waves of fashion and stories of the life of modish people carry the craving for luxuries hitherto looked upon as the prerogative of the well-to-do, down among the millions of limited means and these, in their eager haste to gratify these new wants, keep down their increase.

Malthus foresaw neither of these developments nor did he anWomen Is ticipate how women would come forward. The child generally costs the mother more than it costs the father. Nevertheless, so long as woman is reputed to be inferior, her maternity pangs do not count. The great movement of the last seventy years which has burst the fetters on woman's mind, gives the wife more weight in the marriage partnership and causes the heavy cost of maternity to be more considered by her husband as well as by herself. Probably these forces opposed to prolificacy would have left no very conspicuous mark on the birth rates of nations, had there not occurred at about the same time a diffusion of knowledge of the means of birth control. Percolating slowly down from stratum to stratum, this knowledge continually increases the proportion of limited families.


of Means of Birth Control

While so far the fall in the birth rate has rarely exceeded the fall in the death rate, the two movements obey different forces

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