Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 9.djvu/504

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could all survive, this evil would in time correct itself. But, under ordinary circumstances, forty per cent, of the race die before reaching that age. So of this increase beyond monogamic rates all is a present loss, and forty per cent, an absolute loss. But this is not the worst. The ratio of consumers to producers must in any case vastly increase before any of the young become self-supporting. Hence a much smaller surplus, a smaller ratio to each of what sustains and cheers life, and less to bestow upon the weaker, who have extra needs; consequently a stronger pressure by the whole community on the means of subsistence, a sharper struggle for existence, and a considerably greater mortality among the feeble children. This in turn increases the dead loss set forth above; and thus polygamy causes the loss beyond recovery of a part of the productive energy of a people appreciably greater than is lost in monogamy. This it is, doubtless, which causes much of that large infant-mortality in Utah, which so many have noted, and which has often been mistakenly attributed to the purely physiological effects of polygamy. It is not that children are born with weaker constitutions, but that too many of them are born for the productive strength of the community to carry.

This position will be best appreciated by a comparison with any locality in the Central West—say, a rural region in Ohio. There about one-fifth of the whole community are producers. One-half are children, one-half the remainder women (whom political economy does not consider as producers), and a small proportion infirm and aged. Given freedom, monogamy, and natural conditions, this proportion will maintain itself with almost perfect constancy. There will always be a certain proportion of unmarried women. Families will average four or five children each, and the annual increase will be such as the productive capacity of the Commonwealth can carry, and leave a slight surplus to add to its funded wealth.

Now, introduce polygamy, apportion the single women, and possibly import a few more. Give every fifth man two wives and two sets of children, every tenth man three, and every fiftieth man from four to twenty—this is about the condition in Utah—and what then? In ten years, instead of one-fifth, only one sixth or seventh of the whole population will be producers; and the number of the helpless will be greater than the aggregate strength of the community can provide a proper surplus for. Inevitably, then, the whole population will press harder on the means of subsistence, there will be less abundant nourishment, and a weakening of vitality among the poorest, and, in no long time, a marked increase of mortality among the children thus imperfectly nourished; for thus does inexorable Nature restore the balance with a stern justice untempered by mercy. That Utah polygamy causes more children to be born is unquestioned; whether it would result in a greater permanent increase of the population is very doubtful. It certainly is not true that the polygamous races increase faster than