THE latest publication of vital statistics in Massachusetts has again called attention to a subject often discussed in this magazine and elsewhere—the decreasing number of children in native American families. According to the majority of opinions given, this decrease is due mostly to 'social ambition.' This means that the women who should be, in a real sense, the pillars of our society prefer other things to bringing up their own children. If this is true, it seems a very serious indictment of the American woman.
But is the case settled yet? While social ambition may be operative in many cases, perhaps peculiarly among those coming to the notice of a specialist in medicine, may there not be some data that the statistician can not collect—some pertinent facts which in the nature of the case are not within reach of the investigators?
Among all the talk by learned men and high officials, it is strange that no member of the class under discussion has spoken to the question. On further thought the reason is obvious; the case is necessarily of great delicacy and incapable of proof. But because the charge seems to me in many cases so peculiarly unjust, hereby do I rush in where angels have feared to tread.
Dr. Engelmann in his especially interesting article spoke particularly of the college graduates, that 'group having a lower birth rate than any other.' There may be no need to separate alumna from the rest of her racial group for consideration, for the body of college women now is made up of nearly all the elements of what may be called the middle class. But because narrowing a subject makes it easier to view; because the birth rate of the alumna? is the very lowest; and, especially, because I happen to know more of the conditions among college girls, I confine myself to that group.
There is no need to question the figures—that 1.8 children is the average family of an alumna wife; but let us consider in the beginning just what that 1.8 children mean. Incidentally, we may think a moment of the marriage rate among college women. Both these relatively low numbers are inspiring in one respect—in the thought of the elements which have been eliminated. If less than 50 per cent, of college women marry, yet of that number few take husbands 'for a home' or because they have nothing else to do. Perhaps there are as many happy marriages of companionship among a hundred college