THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A FALLING BIRTH-RATE
Too Long; Didn't ReadThe Fall of the Birth-rate in Europe generally—In England—In Germany—In the United States—In Canada—In Australasia—"Crude" Birth-rate and "Corrected" Birth-rate—The Connection between High Birth-rate and High Death-rate—"Natural Increase" measured by Excess of Births over Deaths—The Measure of National Well-being—The Example of Russia—Japan—China—The Necessity of viewing the Question from a wide Standpoint—The Prevalence of Neo-Malthusian Methods—Influence of the Roman Catholic Church—Other Influences lowering the Birth-rate—Influence of Postponement of Marriage—Relation of the Birth-rate to Commercial and Industrial Activity—Illustrated by Russia, Hungary, and Australia—The Relation of Prosperity to Fertility—The Social Capillarity Theory—Divergence of the Birth-rate and the Marriage-rate—Marriage-rate and the Movement of Prices—Prosperity and Civilization—Fertility among Savages—The lesser Fertility of Urban Populations—Effect of Urbanization on Physical Development—Why Prosperity fails permanently to increase Fertility—Prosperity creates Restraints on Fertility—The Process of Civilization involves Decreased Fertility—In this Respect it is a Continuation of Zoological Evolution—Large Families as a Stigma of Degeneration—The Decreased Fertility of Civilization a General Historical Fact—The Ideals of Civilization to-day—The East and the West.
One of the most interesting phenomena of the early part of the nineteenth century was the immense expansion of the people of the so-called "Anglo-Saxon" race. This expansion coincided with that development of industrial and commercial activity which made the English people, who had previously impressed foreigners as somewhat lazy and drunken, into "a nation of shopkeepers." It also coincided with the end of the supremacy of France in Europe; France had succeeded to Spain as the leading power in Europe, and had on the whole maintained a supremacy which Napoleon brought to a climax, and, in doing so, crushed. The growing prosperity of England represented an entirely new wave of influence, mainly economic in character, but not less forceful than that of Spain and of France had been; and this prosperity was reflected in the growth of the nation. The greater part of the Victorian period was marked by this expansion of population, which reached its highest point in the early years of the second half of that period. While the population of England was thus increasing with ever greater rapidity at home, at the same time the English-speaking peoples overspread the whole of North America, and colonized the fertile fringe of Australia. It was, on a still larger scale, a phenomenon similar to that which had occurred three hundred years earlier, when Spain covered the world and founded an empire upon which, as Spaniards proudly boasted, the sun never set.