Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 83.djvu/483

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ECONOMIC FACTORS IN EUGENICS 479

than early ones. But these collefje women, who marry late, not only liave fewer children, but they also fail to bear the best children of which they were capable. For English students of eugenics have proved by exten- sive investigations that, when a woman bears her first child at about 25, and continues to bear at intervals of two years, the quality of the chil- dren usually improves up to the fifth or sixtli, which is accordingly the best that she is capable of. But, if she bears her first-born at the age of 30 or more, all the children are usually inferior to what they might have been. It would actually seem as though nature, like a human artist, needed practise, before producing her best creations ; and that women, who bear only two or three children, never give nature a chance to do her very best, but are content with her first attempts. It is evident that all who have the cause of eugenics at heart must do all in their 'power to favor early as well as fruitful marriages among the letter part of the population. Sir Francis Galton laid emphasis upon this.

It should be mentioned in this connection that too close applica- tion to intellectual pursuits often causes neurasthenia and menstrual troubles in young women, which may contribute to sterility later or prevent marriage on account of poor health. Excessive indulgence in sports also frequently injures the nervous and reproductive systems.

Let us now consider the larger question of the effect upon number and quality of offspring produced by woman-labor. Here a few statis- tics will be necessary. In 1900, out of 23-J- million women over sixteen years of age in the United States nearly five million, or about 21 per cent., were employed. Of these five million 44.5 per cent, w^ere under twenty-five. The number of women at work had more than doubled since 1880. Women were represented in all but nine of the 303 occu- pations listed. In 1910, Dr. Nearing informs us, 60 per cent, of all the women- workers in the United States received less than $325 a year. Now most of these women are employed solely or chiefly because they were able and willing to work for lower wages than men ; so it is fair to say that they have underbid the men, and either displaced them or forced them to accept the same wretched pay. Asa result, there are '"' textile towns " in Xew England, where the vast majority of the operatives are women and children, and the men stay at home and take care of the babies ! Moreover, in the public schools throughout the land women- teachers have an overwhelming preponderance over men. It is difficult to determine what is the principal effect upon the birth rate of woman's emplo3'ment outside the home. On the one hand, the reduction of the man's wages by woman's unfair competition postpones and prevents his marrying; and, on the other hand, the young woman by means of her occupation may be able to save up something to marry on, and young couples, relying on their both continuing to earn money, may marry

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