YALE graduate families have been growing steadily smaller, says Mr. Clarence Deming in an interesting review (Yale Alumni Weekly, March 4, 1903) based upon class returns which show a gradually decreasing fecundity from 1810 to 1880: this statement together with the small size of the Harvard family as revealed by the report of President Eliot, has justly directed attention to the apparently sad family condition prevalent among college graduates, or, as it has been expressed, among 'the highly educated portion of our population'; and it is generally assumed that this small family size pertains mainly to the highly educated, that conditions are better among the—let us say—less highly educated. It has been inferred that college graduates' families stand alone in not reproducing themselves and 'not adding to the increase of the population,' and that other portions of the population do so reproduce and add to the increase. Accepting this, it naturally follows that education, which has caused the mischief, must be suitably regulated. One suggestion is to shorten the term of study. But are the premises correct?
Speculation has been rife, and the small size of the graduate family is discussed far and wide without ever a thought as to what the conditions among the great mass of our native population may be, and yet it would be well to establish the facts in the case, and to determine the existence of an exceptionally low fecundity among college graduate families before deciding on cause and cure.
True, the average graduate family does not reproduce itself, but no more does that of any other group of our native American population, and the surviving family, the net family of the college graduate is not smaller, but actually larger than that of his less highly educated brother. This points to an unusually low rate of reproduction for the entire native-born element of our population; in fact the conditions now existing among the American people are worse than those found in any other country. They are those of a decadent race, those of Greece and Rome in the period of decline; and again and again, within the past few years, have I urged that the attention of thinking men be seriously given to a consideration of the alarming status attained.