Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 63.djvu/68

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64
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
THE DECREASE IN THE SIZE OF AMERICAN FAMILIES.
By Professor EDWARD L. THORNDIKE,
TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK.

THE vital statistics of three other eastern colleges show the failure of Harvard graduates to produce their share of the present generation to be but a single example of a widespread condition. They further prove that the common discussions of the theoretical and practical questions which this failure suggests are superficial and misleading. In reality its explanation leads us directly to the fundamental problem of evolution. The facts are best seen in tabular form.

 
Size of Families of American College Graduates.[1]

The first number in each column gives the average number of children; the number in parenthesis gives the number of cases on which the average id based.

Middlebury. Wesleyan.[2] New York Univ.[3] Harvard.
1803-1809 506 (61)
1810-1819 4.8 (161)
1820-1829 4.1 (163)
1830-1839 3.9 (189) 4.5 (110) (35-44) 4.0 (110)
1840-1849 3.4 (83) 4.5 (110) (45-54) 3.2 (83)
1850-1859 2.9 (90) 3.2 (227) 2.9 (90)
1860-1869 2.8 (114) 2.6 (250) 2.5 (66)
1870-1874 2.3 (50)
1875-1879 1.8[4] (32) 1.99 (1872 inclusive) (634)
 Total 946 807 349 634. In all 2,736
  1. These figures come in the case of Middlebury and New York University from the alumni catalogues, which give the number of children living and dead, from the answers to questions collected by Professor Nicholson in the case of Wesleyan University (both living and dead children ate included), and from President Eliot's report, in which case only living children were counted. There are doubtless inaccuracies in the records, but the tendency of these would be to make our figures relatively too small for the earlier decades, and consequently truer records would only emphasize the decrease in productivity upon which all the arguments of this discussion will be based. In the case of the Middlebury and New York University records, I have used only those families where the husband had been married at least ten years before he died. In the case of the Wesleyan records all married graduates have been included as the data required to make a selection on the basis of length of married life were lacking. I have to thank Professor F. W. Nicholson, Secretary of Wesleyan University, for the use of his records and Mrs. E. B. Brown for the report of the New York University graduates.
  2. The Wesleyan averages include cases from 41 through 50, etc.
  3. The New York University averages include cases from 35-44, 45-54, etc.
  4. This average would be slightly raised by children to be born after th time of record.