Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 69.djvu/264

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260
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY


Christians. Jews.
Cherson 54.30 34.15
Volkynia 53.31 35.67
Taurida 52.51 34.48
Mohileff 52.30 28.16
Podolia 52.06 34.66
Grodno 50.96 29.84
Chernigoff 50.67 28.13
Poltava 49.00 36.51
Witebsk 46.85 31.00
Wilna 45.10 21.72
Bessarabia 44.46 27.91
Kovno 40.98 27.34
 

An attempt has been made by several statisticians to find some geographical differences in the birth rates of Europe. Sundbärg points out that some striking differences are to be noted in the rates when eastern Europe is compared with western Europe. He calculated an annual rate per 1,000 population for eastern Europe, 46.1; for western Europe, 33.6; southwest, only 32.3, and northwest, 34.7. On the whole, his calculations are well-founded, although there are some exceptions which are attributed to social conditions of a local nature. A glance at the table of the birth rates of the Jews in various European countries shows that while their fertility is everywhere lower than that of the christians, still in general they follow the rule laid down by Sundbärg. Taking Russia, Poland and Galicia as typical of eastern Europe, we find that the rates for the Jews are highest, reaching 38.01 in Galicia. Considering Bavaria as typical of the west, we find here the lowest rate, only 17. Amsterdam is intermediate between these two, only 24.82, corresponding roughly to the northwest of Europe. For the south there are no available data, except some collected in the middle of the last century (1861) showing that in Tuscany the birth rate was 27.2 among the Jews as against 39.0 among the christians.

It thus appears that the Jews follow quite closely the rates observed in Europe. The highest rates are observed in the east, the lowest in the west, etc. It is also known that in Denmark the birth rate of the Jews is very low, corresponding to the north, and in France conditions are similar to those observed among the French. In general it can be stated that with some local exceptions Sundbärg's rule holds as good for Jews as for non-Jews in Europe.

It would be misleading to explain the lower birth rates of the Jews when compared with christians as due to a physiological characteristic having as its cause a peculiar ethnic trait. The facts that the rates are not everywhere the same, but show wide variations, and that these variations correspond more or less closely to those observed among the non-Jewish population, are against any such theory. A close study of certain social conditions of the Jews offers a more reliable explanation.