Full text: Problems in eugenics

M. L. March. Sociology and Eugenics.219 
finally, the most productive classes, the workmen in large industries, like 
mines and spinning mills(i). 
Productiveness is not highest in small country parishes. It is higher in 
the more important districts which are the seat of large industries. But it 
decreases again in cities, and is lowest of all in Paris. This is a general 
phenomenon in countries in which the birth-rate is beginning to decline, the 
movement generally begins in the capital where commerce and the learned 
professions are concentrated, in which the productiveness is very low. 
Occupation, therefore, appears one of the most important of the economic 
factors which determine fertility ; more important, perhaps, than the factor 
“ concentration of population.” 
Income does not appear to have exclusively, at least in France, that 
influence which is attributed to it. We know for certain that workmen in 
general have more children than employers, but certain classes of employers, 
particularly the heads of large enterprises, have more children than many 
classes of workmen, while employés have fewer children than workmen. 
Nevertheless, among workmen, the lowest paid, whose work is most irregular 
and among whom unemployment is most common, as for instance day 
labourers and unskilled labourers, have more children than those belonging 
to classes which are more highly paid and better insured against the risks 
of life. The desire to rise has also been invoked as a cause of infertility ; this 
Arsène Dumont has called “ social capillarity.” Here, again, a distinction 
must be made. Progress towards a higher and higher level of well-being, 
like everything else which exacts efforts to attain a definite end, can bring 
about a general fall of the birth-rate; it is one of the ways in which the 
influence of progressive civilisation is felt, but the examination of the 
occupational categories forbids us to attribute to it a universal preponder­ 
ance. The proletariat in large centres and the artisan or small farmer have 
been contrasted, and it has been said that each class has the productiveness 
of the class to which it wishes to belong ; but has the employe more hope 
of rising from his class than the workman?—he rises from it, perhaps, less 
often. To sum up in a word that which, amidst the complex play of 
causes, appears to act in all occupations and in all conditions :—fertility 
is perhaps less generally governed by the desire to rise than by the fear of 
falling; and the fear is directly bound up with the fact that children 
are a burden. This fact is what strikes every one more forcibly than 
formerly, when they think of the growing mobility of existence, of the 
changes in manners, institutions, and legislation, all of which may put a 
heavy charge on the mass of the population. 
(1) I have shown in a previous report that in France in the regions of large 
agricultural holdings and large industries the birth-rate is highest, and has decreased 
less than in regions where small concerns are the rule.
	        

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