Full text: Problems in eugenics

C. Gini.Sociology and Eugenics.33 
more likely. It remains to be determined whether the heavy death-rate during 
development which the human race shows in the comparison is a distinctive 
natural characteristic belonging to it, or whether it is rather the result of 
the more or less artificial circumstances in which man is born and reared. 
The human race differs as regards reproduction and the rearing of its 
offspring from the higher species of animals in their natural state, chiefly 
in three ways : (a) In the case of the human race reproduction takes place 
at all times of the year, whilst the higher animals have one single period for 
reproducing, or, in some cases, two or three periods; (b) animals reproduce 
as soon as the organism becomes capable of reproduction, whilst in civilised 
human races as a rule a longer or shorter period elapses between the time 
when the individual becomes capable of reproduction and the time he 
actually begins to reproduce; (c) in civilised man the development of altru­ 
istic sentiments protects weak and sickly persons from the eliminating action 
of natural selection, and often enables them to take part in the procreation 
of future generations. 
The paper of A. has for its object to examine closely these three argu­ 
ments based upon very extensive data taken partly from demographic statis­ 
tics and partly from researches made personally by him or which he caused 
to be made, especially in the Municipal Statistical Offices of Rome and 
Cagliari, and in the Obstetrical Clinic of Bologna. The principal results 
are here indicated. 
A. The rule of a greater number of conceptions in Spring observed in 
temperate regions suffers notable exceptions in tropical and arctic regions. 
Hence there is a weakening of the idea that in it one should recognise the 
atavistic heritage of a special season for reproduction which the human race 
had originally shown, analogous to what one finds to-day in many species of 
animals. On the other hand, neither the frequency of multiple births, of 
miscarriages, or of stillbirths, nor the length of life of offspring nor their 
intellectual capacity show any correlation whatever with the season of con­ 
ception. The frequency of stillbirths, however, and the length of life of 
the offspring show a clear correlation with the season of birth, in the sense 
that those born in temperate seasons show a lower rate for stillbirths and a 
greater length of life. 
B. The age of the mother at the time of parturition does not show 
any regular influence on the size and weight of the child. It has a very 
sensible influence on the frequency of miscarriages and of stillbirths; this 
•increases with the increase in age. The age of the mother at the time of 
marriage exercises a decisive influence upon the vitality of the offspring : the 
greater the age of the mother at the time of marriage the less will be the 
vitality of the children. 
The age of the father at the birth of his child has some influence on the 
number of stillbirths among his children. This influence—at any rate above 
a given age—increases with the increase in the father’s age. It can neither
	        

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