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CHAP. III

MALTHUS AT PAR AGAIN

Down

crease or

the old

and Misery

Through the mid-part of the nineteenth century the lesson The White Malthus sought to drive home was obscured by the fact that, al- Must Cat though the population was multiplying freely, life was getting Their Rato easier. In the course of the century Europeans much more than of Incoubled in number and yet were better fed than at the beginning. go back to The explanation, however, is not that Malthus was all wrong, but Poverty 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.

THE FALL IN THE BIRTH RATE

While, owing to the great lowering of the death rate, most of The Birth

Rate of the advanced peoples were, at the threshold of the World War, All Civilincreasing perhaps faster than ever before, the behavior of their Ized Peo

ples has berth 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 fr 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, Særtzerland, 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 ircundity." In the United States, despite an immense influx of ea-ty-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.

CHAP. III

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

CAUSES OF THE FALL IN THE BIRTH RATE

in Life »

Children

More
Wants

In Our One of these is democracy. Caste barriers are down so that
Democracy
a Large more and more a man's standing depends upon himself. The
Family
Impedes

lists of life are open to all and the passion to "succeed " grows • Rising

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. Many Rear Owing to the break-up of custom, our economic wants expand Power

faster than ever before. People will not limit themselves to the in Order to Gratify

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. Tho Ad

Malthus foresaw neither of these developments nor did he anvance of Women Is ticipate how women would come forward. The child generally Unfavor. able to

costs the mother more than it costs the father. Nevertheless, so Excessivo

long as woman is reputed to be inferior, her maternity pangs do Childbearing 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 mater

nity to be more considered by her husband as well as by herself. Knowledge Probably these forces opposed to prolificacy would have left no of Means of Birth very conspicuous mark on the birth rates of nations, had there Control

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.

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

havior of

and they may not keep together. It is hard to see how the mor

CHAP. III tality in a normal population can be brought lower than 10 in a The Bothousand, whereas there is no telling to what point its fecundity the Birth may sink. In New England, for example, the birth rate of the rative stock appears to be less than its death rate, so that it is calculable being swamped by the foreign-born element, which breeds three times as fast as it does.

Rato
Rather In-

May Stim

Produc

SOCIAL CONTROL OF FECUNDITY Society, however, is not without influence upon the desire for By Means

of Opinion chspring. Whether a young couple shall avoid progeny, content Society

Can Influthemselves with a child or two, or undertake to rear a real family, once the

for de;ends much on the current opinion about children. If they Dispring are koked upon as blessings and if a normal-sized, well-reared tary is a source of pride, few couples will remain child-shy. Thus by substituting sound ideals for selfish and frivolous ideals, soce y may do much to raise births to the point, at least, of race coatinuance. If social appreciation of children does not suffice, society can

Society induce the foresighted and prudent to rear more children by alter- ulato Chuld in the economic incidence of child-rearing. At present the child- tion by

a producing family handicaps itself in comparison with the child- Bearing • sty. If by iree medical care of the child-bearing mother and her Its Oost <ildren, free schooling, free meals in school, and so on up to the sint of state allowances for healthy children born to healthy couples, the economic burden of race continuance were largely transferred from the individual to the community, no doubt the cid crop of the superior strains would increase. It goes without saying that such aid would most stimulate the reproduction of the sore shiftless elements unless it were reserved for couples which ca.me up to a certain standard of inheritance, capacity, and chararter. Such a standard will not be accepted in a democracy until trental measurement is far more advanced and used than it now is.

As soon as one element withholds its increase more than an- The Freectter element, it diminishes its share in the heredity of the gener- Aro, in

General zens to come. Now, since those who limit their family to a less Valu

lerate size, are, on the whole, the prudent, self-controlled, and able Giable people, or those who have a high standard of what they than the ze their children, whereas those who have families of ten to multipliers Siteen are, on the whole, the more thriftless and reckless, or those

multipliers

Stocks

Prudent

Let the Law Hinder the Free-mul. tipliers

Their

CHAP. III who have a low standard of what they owe their children, is not

birth control dysgenic? Does it not cause the race to be recruited from the less desirable strains ? Formerly, owing to the poverty and ignorance of the parents of large families, fewer of their children survived than of the families half as large. But now that the child's prospect of surviving depends less on the intelligence and resources of its parents and more on the intelligence and resources of the community, the conscientious breeders have little advantage over the rash breeders.

Something may be done to correct this situation by social policies which restrain fathers from exploiting their young children.

By means of compulsory school attendance laws and anti-childfrom Exploiting

labor laws responsible parents may impose upon greedy fathers

the standards of child culture to which they already accommodate Children

their own conduct. The conversion of children from assets into liabilities works a surprising change in the attitude of a certain type toward the large family..

It is possible, moreover, for public opinion to discourage imFamily. Is moderate fecundity. When each trudges the road by himself, it gether a is solely his own affair how many bundles he loads himself with.

But when we go by train, it is everybody's concern how many bundles a passenger brings aboard. The more one brings, the fewer others can bring and the greater the general discomfort. Hence, an opinion grows up as to what is a reasonable amount of

luggage for a passenger to travel with. Can Social

In the same way, once it is realized that only by a certain selfOpinion

control in propagation is it possible for a people to enjoy health, the Mul. tiplication comfort, and length of life, an idea forms as to what is a reasonof the Inferior?

able family size, and disapproval is shown those who without warrant exceed this. No doubt the exceptionally endowed who offer society a “ full quiver” of children will find favor ; but the subcommon - who are the most reckless in multiplication will be made to feel community resentment when they propagate as if the world could not have too much of their ilk. The man of poor stock who begets a family of ten or fifteen will be looked upon as a fool or an egoist.

The Size of One's

Private Matter

Restrain

NATIONAL CONTROL OF IMMIGRATION INEVITABLE But what of forethoughted parentage by the advanced peoples while there are peoples and races which multiply blindly and

Would
Neutralize

of the In

threaten to flood their neighbors with their surplus population? CHAP. III Now that cheap travel stirs the social deeps and beckoning oppor- Unrestricted tunity fills the steerages, immigration becomes ever more serious Migration to the people which hopes to rid itself utterly of slums, "submerged tenth" and "poverty" classes. Wherefore should it the Efforts practise family prudence if hungry strangers may crowd in and telligent occupy at the table the places it had reserved for its children? Lift Their Shall it in order to relieve the teeming lands of their unemployed Living abide in the pit of wolfish competition and give up the prospect of a betterment of the lot of the masses?

Peoples to

Plane of

Barriers

Keep Out

multi

There is no doubt that barriers to immigration will be reared wil be which will give notice to the backward peoples that enlightened Reared to humanity is not willing to cramp itself in order that these peoples the Freemay continue to indulge in thoughtless reproduction. Let a peo- plying ple make itself miserable by multiplying like an animal not endowed with foresight and reason, but why should this people expect other peoples to allow themselves to be made miserable in order to accommodate its overflow?

Peoples

Unless family restriction becomes general over the world, it is vain, therefore, to expect acknowledgment of the right of any well-behaved and self-supporting human being to settle where he will. From the standpoint of the brotherhood of man such an acknowledgment would be most desirable. But there is no blinking the fact that it would handicap the advanced peoples and in time cause the world's population to consist more of unthinking races and less of thinking aspiring races.

The barriers which are sure to rise will not aim to hamper the interchange of culture elements among the peoples or to hinder the movement of such bearers of culture as students, scholars, missionaries, travellers, officials, and business men. But they will prevent the movement of great numbers from areas of high pulation pressure to areas in which a low population pressure is deliberately maintained. The imputation of such a barrier is not that the excluded people or race is inferior but that the excluding people does not propose to incommode itself and lose its own field. of future internal expansion in order that the excluded may be relieved of the natural penalty of their heedless propagation. Such a policy smacks not so much of hateful discrimination as of that wise conservation of resources for the benefit of posterity which is becoming general among the enlightened peoples.

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