Increasing industrialism has the same effect as undersatura-tion; the German birth rate, for instance, remained large as long as there was a demand for workers, but now there is an over-supply, a large unemployed mass, and dreadful distress. They have been priding themselves on their fecundity while sneering at the French, but have recently realized that to prevent starvation, they must reduce the birth rate to the French level, for they cannot get more land, more markets or continue to migrate as in the past. Stories of starvation and lack of work come from Berlin - not Paris. In February, 1909, Berlin had over 100,000 out of work.
We can now consider a still further factor which influences the birth rate, and that is the death rate. From the cheapness of human life in savagery, the birth rate is unaffected by the death rate - the unwelcome babies being simply slaughtered or left to perish sooner or later. In civilization, on the other hand, it rises and falls with the death rate, being as sensitive to such changes as to changes in density. Now, as civilization advances and the death rate goes down, the birth rate instantly responds.
* Journal American Medical Association.
H. G. Wells* shows the dependence of birth rate upon death rate very clearly as to England and Wales:
Average yearly Births per 1,000
Average yearly Deaths per 1,000
Difference or effective yearly increase
It is curious that the two rates should decrease by five and eight-tenths and five and sixth-tenths, respectively, so that the effective increase should not change in a half century. He also disposes of the claim that a reduced birth rate results from increase of illegitimate intercourse, by showing that the number of such births fell from two and two-tenths per 1,000 in the first period, to one and two-tenths per 1,000 in the end of the century. This is enormous - 40,000 less per year among the 40,000,000. It is only one more proof of the undoubted fact of the gradual increase of morality, and that the world is getting better as evolution proceeds, and that the moral code is gradually advancing now as it always has. "The highly moral, healthy, prolific, pious England of the past is just another ideal delusion".
It has been said that the reduction of the birth rate is partly a result of figures, that is, it is more apparent than real, because of the modern prolongation of life beyond the productive period. There are now in every 1,000 population more old people who have passed that age than there were formerly, and consequently the births per 1,000 of population must be less, even if the number of children born to each marriage were the same. This is true, but those over fifty or fifty-five are too few in number to effect the figures markedly. The real test is the number of births per family and the number of marriages - and we have seen that these are both diminishing, and also the number of celibates increasing.
* "Mankind in the Making," Cosmopolitan, November, 1902.