This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
In sociology we see this principle most clearly applied to population. Man is an animal, and must have space and light and food, and the wherewithal to support and rear his young, like any beast of the forest. He must withstand climate, diseases, or anything else that tends to injure him. Among enlightened peoples it is the social conditions rather than the natural that keep down population. Vicious living destroys more people than pestilence. Celibacy, late marriages, and few or no offspring to a marriage are factors that reduce the number of children more than all the infants' diseases together. Here is a table showing the percentage of annual change in the population of five countries, based on figures gathered during the middle of the nineteenth century.
Increase Per Cent
Years to Double
Great Britain ...........
- Adapted from Wagner, Politische Oekonomie, I, ii, pp. 505-509.
Since these figures were gathered the birth rate has fallen still lower in France without a corresponding fall in the death rate; in the year 1911 there were fewer births than deaths. French statesmen viewed this with alarm because it meant fewer soldiers. Recently there has also been a fall in the birth rate in England and Germany. In French Canada, on the other hand, the population continues to double every twenty-five years, as it did in the English colonies in America before the Revolution.1
In 1890 the Government of the Province of Quebec passed a law granting a piece of land to every head of a family that could boast of twelve or more children. This grant was later changed to a cash premium. Until 1905 a total of 5,414 families received the premium. Of this number 150 families had 14 to 18 children; in some cases where one or the other of the parents was married twice, the number of living children ranged from 18 to 27 children. Since the foundation of Quebec in 1608 there have been entered upon the parish registers, up to 1883, a total of 2,900,000 births, or 67.25 per one thousand population. French-Canadian families of eight and ten children are not uncommon. The average size of a family is five children. ... - Extension, July, 1912.
1 These statements refer to developments before 1914.