Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/196

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relative increase of the defective classes, on the ground that statistics are now much, more carefully collected than formerly, which is certainly true. It may be said, however, that errors in the returns of the defectives were not confined to this class, but were more or less distributed among the different elements of population. The accurate collation of defectives is a task of great difficulty. While their number is now relatively better known than formerly, their absolute number will never be as accurately tabulated as other parts of the community, but a study of statistics shows that they tend to increase.

With regard to paupers, the recent census shows the total number in almshouses to be 73,045.[1] The number reported in 1880 was 66,203. The ratio of almshouse paupers to the total population at that time was 1 to 758; the ratio in 1890 was 1 to 857, showing a decrease. This decline in the ratio is attributed to the very muck smaller number of paupers cared for in the almshouses in the North Atlantic division. It is interesting to note that the foreign population of this country contributes, directly or indirectly, very nearly three fifths of all the paupers supported in almshouses. There is no way of learning the number of outdoor poor which is large as they are supported, partly or in whole, by private charity. Mrs. Lowell estimates that the number of paupers in the public and private institutions of New York city, totally supported at any one time, is about 28,000. The cost of maintaining them during 1890 was $3,794,972. She further states that, if we go back forty years, we find that the increase of contributions of public funds to private persons for the support of private paupers has been from $9,863 in 1850 to $1,845,872 in 1890, and that the amount is nearly two hundred times what it was forty years ago. The increase of expenditure for public paupers, through the hands of public officials, has been at a much less ratio, increasing from $421,882 to $1,949,100 during the same interval of time.[2]

What is society to do with its horde of defectives? Unfortunately, it does practically nothing to check their production. The sources of the muddy stream are left untouched, while larger and larger reservoirs are being constantly built to collect and conserve the contaminated flow. One can not help noticing how this humanitarian age is abundantly equipped with asylums, almshouses, reformatories, and hospitals of all kinds. If the good accomplished by such agencies could be measured solely by relief of suffering and cure of disease, the results would be nothing but gratifying. A collateral danger is in keeping alive

  1. Census Bulletin, No. 90, July 8, 1891.
  2. Christian Union, August 25, 1891.