Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/623

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617
THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE

educated to the human interest of scientific research.

It may be regarded as a cause for congratulation that the administrators of the Nobel bequest have this year made some of the awards to younger men actively engaged in research—Dr. Carrel is not yet forty years old—rather than to men of distinction whose life work is practically complete, if only because this was the condition | under which Nobel bequeathed his for-: tune. By his will it was specified that the prizes should be awarded to those persons who shall have contributed most materially to benefit mankind during the year immediately preceding; that no preference should be given to Scandinavians in the awards, and that the entire income should be used for five great prizes. The first condition may have been difficult to meet, but its spirit could have been followed, as has been done this year in the case of Dr. Carrel, by conferring the prize for work done recently, rather than for work done a generation ago, or as even this year in conferring the prize for literature on Dr. Hauptmann. It must still be regarded as unsatisfactory that a considerable part of the income has been used to establish Nobel Institutes at Stockholm, and it can scarcely be supposed that Dr. Gustrand, the Swedish oculist, would have received the award in medicine last year, or Mr. Dalen, the head of the Stockholm Gas Company, would have received it this year, had Nobel's intentions been fulfilled. It is ungracious to make criticisms when there is no reason to doubt that the administrators of the bequest are doing what they believe to be for the best advantage of science. At the same time, if no criticisms had been made, it is by no means certain that even more of the income might have been diverted to local uses, for in the statutes approved by the Swedish courts it was made possible to award the prizes only once in five years.

 

VITAL STATISTICS AND THE DECREASING DEATH RATE

The recently published seventy-third annual report of the registrar general of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales gives an excellent summary of the vital statistics of England with convenient international comparisons. As is well known both birth rates and death rates have decreased in practically every nation in the course of the past thirty years. A comparison of the quinquennial period 1881-85 with 1910 for several countries gives the following rates per thousand population:

Birth
1881-5
Rates
1910
Death
1881-5
Rates
1910
England 33.5 25.1 19.4 13.5
Prussia 37.4 30.5 25.4 16.0
France 24.7 19.7 22.2 17.9
Italy 38.0 32.9 27.3 19.6
Russia 49.1 35.4
Australia 35.2 26.7 15.7 10.4
United States unknown unknown
 

In this table "unknown" is written after the United States to emphasize our lack of vital statistics. Recent data from Russia are also lacking, but in that country and in the United States as elsewhere both birth rates and death rates have decreased in such a way as to leave a tolerably constant increment of population.

This correspondence, however, is by no means complete. Where both birth rates and death rates are high the increment of population tends to be larger than where they are low. This holds in general for nations, districts and social classes. The Slavonic nations, in spite of their waste of human life, are increasing more rapidly than others. The tenement house districts of New York City have a large infant mortality, but they swarm with children, whereas in the rich districts, there is less than a child to an apartment. The most striking instance on a large scale is France, with a birth rate some five lower and a death rate