Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/86

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


82 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

Deducting this number from the census increase, there remains an in- crease of only 18 per cent, for the native population.

The figures for England and Wales, a stable country with little immigration, shows even more clearly the abnormal increase of popu- lation after 1750. During the 270 years from 1480 to 1750 the popu- lation of England and Wales increased from 3,700,000 to 6,500,000, an increase of 2,800,000, or 75 per cent. During the next thirty years, however, from 1750 to 1780, the increase was 3,000,000 or 50 per cent. — an increase for 30 years nearly equal to the entire increase for the previous 270 years.

During the century from 1750 to 1850 the increase was from 6,500,000 to 17,600,000, an increase of 11,100,000 or 170 per cent. In the 270 years preceding 1750 the population of England and Wales in- creased 2,800,000, or 75 per cent. ; in the 100 years following 1750 the population increased 11,100,000, or 170 per cent. The years succeed- ing 1750 witnessed a remarkable increase in population, an increase considerably below the rate of 1800 for the United States, but far above the rate of England for the three preceding centuries.

The chief influence in restricting the population prior to 1750 was undoubtedly exerted by the enormous death rate, for prior to that period, war, pestilence and famine played havoc with population. It is estimated that from 1618 to 1648 wars cost Germany 6,000,000 lives. The black plague in 1348-49 swept away half of the population of England. The ravages of plague may be imagined by the following death rates for England in plague years.

Deaths per 1,000 Population

1593 240

1625 310

1636 130

1665 430

When it is remembered that modem science has reduced the death rate in some of the great cities to 15 per thousand, the significance of a death rate of 430 can be imagined. Famine played a less important part in curtailing population than either war or pestilence, but it oc- casionally became significant.

Any appreciable increase of population before the middle of the eighteenth century was, therefore, prevented by the high death rate, and any increase at all could be brought about only by maintaining a birth rate higher than the phenomenally high death rate. Necessity being then, as now, a kind of stepmother to invention, every device was resorted to for stimulating a higher birth rate. The injunction to "be fruitful and multiply" was accepted as a part of their religious belief and blindly followed by a great portion of the population. Statesmen looked upon prolificness as of near kin to patriotism.

While efforts were being made and effectively made to stimulate the birth rate, equally effective efforts were being directed to the reduction

�� �