Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Louis-René Villermé
French economist, b. at Paris, 10 March, 1782; d. there, 16 Nov., 1863. He was devoted to medical studies, and later to social questions. He wrote two important memoirs on the mortality among prisoners and promiscuity in gaols (1820, 1829) and established the "Annales d'hygiène" (1829). His works on vital statistics were regarded as a refutation, on many points successful, of Doubleday's "True Law of Population". His chief title to renown is his "Tableau de l'état physique et moral des ouvriers employés dans les manufactures de coton, de laine et de soie" (184), which was the result of lengthy investigation. It showed how the hand combining of cotton, engenders pneumonia, and contained a protest against excessive child-labour in manufacturing; Villerme's cry of warning was thus the origin of the law of 1841 on child labour. The period of 1848 was marked by three works of Villermé: "Les associations ouvrières" (1849); "Les cités ouvrières" (1850); "Les accidents produits dans les ateliers par les appareils mécaniques" (1858). To Villermé belongs the credit of having given an accurate diagnosis of the industrial evils which social Catholicism later sought to remedy. A Liberal in political economy, he was timid when it came to organizing remedies, but he brought to the observation and exposition of the social evil the exactitude employed by a physician in the diagnosis of a patient's malady. He was a member of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques from about 1833.
BECLARD, Eloge de Villerme' (Paris, 1866); LIPPERT in CONRAD AND LEXIS, Handworterb. d. Staatswissenschaften (Jena, 1901). s.v.