Full text: papers communicated to the first International Eugenics Congress held at the University of London, July 24th to 30th, 1912

26Section III.A. Niceforo. 
THE CAUSE OF THE INFERIORITY OF PHYSICAL AND 
MENTAL CHARACTERS IN THE LOWER SOCIAL CLASSES. 
(Abstract.) 
By Professor Alfredo Niceforo, 
Of the University of Naples. 
The author has compared the physical, demographic, and mental char­ 
acters of the upper and leisured classes with the same characters in 
individuals of the inferior and poor classes. He has made use of several 
methods : (i) A comparison between the well-to-do and the poor children in 
schools; (2) a comparison between individuals belonging to different pro­ 
fessions ; (3) a comparison between the rich and the poor quarters of the 
same city. 
He has also studied 4,000 children of the schools of Lausanne; Italian 
peasants; conscripts of different countries, classified according to their 
occupation; and the rich and the poor quarters of Lausanne, Paris, etc. 
He has found that individuals of the lower classes show a smaller 
development of stature, of cranial capacity, of sensibility, of resistance to 
mental fatigue, a delay in the period when puberty makes its appearance, 
a slackening in growth, a very large number of anomalies, etc. 
The causes of these differences ascertained in comparing the two groups 
are of the mesological and individual order. 
Of the mesological order because the conditions of life where men of the 
lower classes are forced to live constitute one of the causes of the deteriora­ 
tion of their physical and mental characters. 
Of the individual order because, thanks to biological variation, every 
man is born different from all other men, and men who are born with 
superior physical and mental characters tend to rise in the superior classes, 
while men who are born with inferior physical and mental characters tend 
to fall in the most wretched classes. 
However, in studying the catalogues of measurements and observations, 
the author has found that in the mass of men belonging to the superior 
classes one finds a small number of men with inferior qualities, while in 
the mass of men forming the inferior classes one finds a certain number of 
men presenting superior characters. 
It is between these two exceptional categories that social exchanges 
should be made, allowing the best and most capable of the lower stratum 
to ascend, and compelling the unadapted who are found above to fall to the 
lower stratum.
        

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