Full text: Problems in eugenics

210Section III.M. L. March. 
The beneficent effect of this civilisation appears to most eyes as a growth 
of individual liberty and of equality. Is it not precisely in this growing 
freedom with respect to natural forces, and in an impatience growing more 
acute and more suspicious in respect to natural or acquired inequalities, that 
one must look for the deeper reasons of the voluntary restriction which 
appears to threaten the living works of all civilised society ? 
Family statistics enable us to make some suggestive distinctions, by 
which we shall endeavour to attach a definite value to the different factors 
bringing about the decline in the birth-rate expressed shortly in the 
word civilisation. In particular is it certain that the poorest classes, 
which are without doubt the least adapted to a life of progress, are the most 
prolific, in such a way that a great part of the coming generations are certain 
to be recruited from them? If not, to what extent is it a fact? 
A detailed and methodical study of the statistics of families classed 
according to occupation seems indispensable. That is why we present to 
this first Congress those which have been prepared in France in recent 
years. The statistics prepared in France after the census of 1906(1) is based on 
the individual census papers. For this special purpose the papers of married 
men, widowers, divorced men, and widows were examined. The papers of 
married men were chosen because they were generally better filled in than 
those of married women. 
In a general way, among the French people the number of children per 
family is very low. The lowering of the birth-rate, a phenomenon quite 
general in our time, began in F rance much earlier than in other countries, 
which is a sufficient explanation of the ielative paucity there of the annual 
number of births. 
Taking them altogether, the 11.5 million French families, counted in the 
census of 1906, had 293 legitimate children born alive to every 100 families. 
But this average is based on the aggregate of married men, widowers, 
widows, and divorced persons ; it takes no account of the duration of 
marriage, nor of the age of the head of the family ; thus it does not furnish 
a very good instrument of comparison. 
One gets a better measure of the productiveness of families if one con­ 
siders, for example, those families of which the head was 60-65 years old ; 
one then finds that the mean number of children born for every 100 families 
is 354(2)- When only those families are counted whose head is a married 
man, the mean number is raised to 360, and we can examine the result of a 
classification according to social class. Among employers the figure is 359» 
or almost equal to the average ; among workmen it rises to 404 ; while among 
employes other than workmen it sinks to 300. These values are signifi- 
(1) Statistique Générale de la France.—Statistiques des Familles en T906. 
(2) Above 65 years the declared number diminishes, because, no doubt, aged 
persons forget about those of their children who have died at an early age.

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