Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

work in groups. Often the instructor must accompany the students. Students doing field-work under such, circumstances are very apt to attract the attention of newspaper reporters and become a target for their witticisms. I can only say that, so far as my experience goes, notoriety can be avoided. For two years, once every two weeks, groups of my students were more or less publicly studying sociology, for a half-day or more at a time, outside the classroom. Only once in the two years did we become the prey of the reporter, and on that occasion it was the result of a misunderstanding which caused my plans to miscarry. 2. The baneful effect on the individuals who are visited and whose character and surroundings are studied. Here again my experience leads me to think that their feelings need not be disregarded or in any sense outraged. In some cases I found it possible to establish perfectly natural relationhips through co-operation with settlement workers. I have also found city and state officials very courteous and obliging in the matter of permitting students to study their methods of administration. 3. The time required on the part of both student and teacher. This I admit to be a serious objection. It is the most serious of all, I think. But through co-operation with settlement workers, with public officials, with alumni, it is possible to minimize the time required. In any case, the value of a method must be judged according to the results that it gives; and I believe the results obtained from field-work, in general, to be worth all the time and the effort. A friend with whom I was conversing while on the train coming to Providence said that he was endeavoring to use the case method in his courses in sociology—the case method not merely in the study of what may be termed the pathological conditions of society, but in the study also of what may be called the ordinary, normal, and typical conditions. That, in a word, is what I have in mind and what I advocate. It is desirable at the present time to use the case method just as far as possible in the teaching of sociology.

[graphic]

WESTERN CIVILIZATION AND THE BIRTH-RATE

PROFESSOR EDWARD A. ROSS
University of Wisconsin

A century ago Robert Malthus showed that the spontaneous fecundity of man is such that, with a purely natural mortality, population doubles in twenty-five years, whereas the subsistence obtainable from a given area cannot be indefinitely increased. He showed furthermore that, since the reproductive instincts are in no wise correlated with man's power to increase the foodsupply, population tends to increase even when additional numbers can no longer be supported. Under such circumstances the equilibration of population with resources is brought about by war, misery, plague, famine, and vice, which raise the death-rate until it equals the natural birth-rate. Although this cruel mode of equilibration has prevailed through human history, a milder mode is possible if, by taking thought, men will restrict reproduction until the births no longer exceed the deaths. This, however, presupposes more foresight and self-control than can be looked for in the average man, so Malthus saw no prospect of the abolition of poverty, cherished little hope for the laboring masses, and painted the future of society with a somberness that gave economics its nickname of “the dismal science.”

It is nothing to the discredit of Malthus's doctrines that he did not foresee certain social transformations—democracy, the emancipation of women, the replacement of custom imitation by fashion imitation—which have generalized his “preventive check” until the birth-rate of entire populations betrays the domination of the instincts by the will. Although the population of Europe leaped from 187 millions to 400 millions during the nineteenth century, the last thirty years show a steady decline in the birth-rate.

[ocr errors]

TABLE I
BIRTHS PER THOUSAND OF POPULATION
1876–80 1896-190o Fall in 20 Years | Fall to 1902-3
Norway. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31.5 3o. 4 I. I. 2.9
Austria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38.8 37. I 1.7 2.2
Denmark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32. I 30.2% I. 9 2.8
Switzerland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3I. 3 28.7% 2.6 3.6
Ireland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25.8 23.2 2.6 2.7
Italy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36.8 34. O 2.8 3.5
Belgium . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3I.9 28.8 3. I 2.2
France. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25.4 22.4 3.2 3.8
Germany . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39.2 36.o 3.2 5.3
Sweden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30.2 26.9 3.3 3.8
Holland. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36.4 32.5% 3.9 4.8
Hungary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44. I 39.7 4.4 5.3
Scotland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34.7 30.2 4.5 6. I
England and Wales . . . . . . . 35.4 29.3° 6. I 6.8
* 1891-1900.

That the tendency is not due to a darkening of the economic horizon appears from the similar behavior of the prosperous

Australasian peoples.

y

TABLE II
AUSTRALASIAN BIRTH-RATES
New southwal- Victoria New Zealand
1871–75. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39. O 35.6 4o.o
1876–8o. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38.5 31.4 41.3
1880–85. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37.6 | 3o. 7 36.5
1886–90. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36.3 32.7 31.2
1890–95. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32.9 3o. 9 27.6
1896–1900. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27.9 26.2 25.7

Few American states register births, but the proportion of children revealed by successive censuses discloses in what direc

tion we are moving.

TABLE III NUMBER OF CHILDREN UNDER FIVE YEARs to 1,000 Wom EN OF CHILD-BEARING AGE 1850. . . . . . . . . . . . . 626 1880. . . . . . . . . . . . . 559 1860. . . . . . . . . . . . . 634 1890. . . . . . . . . . . . . 485 1870. . . . . . . . . . . . . 572 I9Co. . . . . . . . . . . . . 479

The fecundity of the foreign-born element, stronger now in our population than in 1850, obscures somewhat the tendencies prevailing among native Americans.

from the following table:

What these are appears

[merged small][graphic]

TABLE IV
NUMBER OF OFFSPRING BoRN IN FAMILIES OF COLLEGE GRADUATES

Middlebury Wesleyan New York
College University University*

5.6 - - - - -
4.8 - - - - - -
4. I - - - - -
3.9 4.5 4 O
3.4 3-3 | 3 2
2.9 2.2 2
2.8 2.6 2 9
2.3 - - - ::5
1.8 l

*The figures for New York University are for the decades 1835-44, 1845-54, etc. Let it not be imagined that the reduction in fecundity has been at the expense of the natural increase of population. The death-rate has fallen even more than the birth-rate, so that during the nineties the European peoples grew at the old rate of 1 to 1% per cent. per annum. Since, however, the influences lowering the birth-rate are by no means the same as those lessening mortality, it is likely the former will continue to operate after the latter have spent their force. This is why we may look in the near future for a retardation in the numerical growth of the occidental peoples. A phenomenon so widespread and striking is a challenge to the tyro and the fanatic, and hence all manner of silly, cheap, or partial explanations compete for public credence. Some attribute it to physiological sterility induced by alcoholism, city life, and high pressure, forgetting that the child crop of sober, rural communities is often scantier than that of intemperate mining or industrial towns, and that the falling-off in the birth-rate seems due to smaller size of families rather than to the greater frequency of childless couples. New South Wales, with a lower birth-rate than England, has less than half the proportion of sterile unions. What means it, moreover, that the Australasian population, with its surpassing physique and vitality, shows in recent years an abrupt decline in fecundity? Some lay the phenomenon to the industrial emancipation of women and the comfortable celibacy of cities, neglecting the statistics which show there is no marked weakening of the inclination to marry. The true cause is one that will make clear why, for example, the native married women of Massachusetts bear only seven-elevenths as many children as women coming from Germany, seven-thirteenths as many as those from Ireland, and half as many as those from French Canada. Others blame the broadening freedom of divorce, unmindful that divorceless Ireland has only four-fifths the birth-rate of easy-divorce Switzerland, that teeming Germany is five times as inclined to break the conjugal bond as Canada where the size of the family shrank a twentieth during the nineties, and that prolific Japan leads the world with nearly twenty times the divorce-rate of stationary France. Still others blame the postponement of marriage, pointing out that marriage at 24.5 years as with English brides, at 25.5 as among those of Massachusetts, or at 26.5 as among collegebred women, cuts deeply into the fecund years. But they overlook the fact that the last child in the average family arrives seven and a half years after marriage, so that even the woman who weds at 26.5 years ceases child-bearing with yet many fertile years before her. In the face of the hobby-riders I maintain that the cause of the shrinkage in fecundity lies in the human will as influenced by certain factors which have their roots deep in the civilization of our times. One master-trait of contemporary society is democracy. The barriers of caste are down, and less and less is a man's place in society fixed by his origin. The more flourishing peoples grade men according to something that can be acquired—wealth, efficiency, knowledge, character. Wide stairways are opened between the social levels, and men are exhorted to climb if they can. In such case prudence bids each avoid whatever will impede his ascent or imperil his social standing. To the climber children are incumbrances, and so the ambitious dread the handicap of an early marriage and a large family. When, as so often in these days of anti-child-labor laws and protracted schooling, the additional child is a drag on the social advancement of the family, that child is not likely to be born. With the wiping-out of sharp class lines, inherited standards

[graphic]
« ForrigeFortsett »