Popular Science Monthly/Volume 70/January 1907/The Jews: A Study of Race and Environment IV

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THE JEWS: A STUDY OF RACE AND ENVIRONMENT. IV.
By Dr. MAURICE FISHBERG

NEW YORK

Mortality

THE bulk of the Jewish population in the orient and eastern Europe lives mostly in the oldest and most congested parts of cities amid squalid and unsanitary surroundings, where the mortality rates are, by general experience, known to be excessive. Physically, the eastern European Jews appear to be weak, anemic and decrepit when compared with the christian population, and in addition they are mainly engaged in indoor occupations. These peculiarities would lead one to expect a priori that the mortality rates among them would be much higher than among other people, who live mostly under better hygienic and sanitary conditions, have a large proportion of agriculturists who live in the open country, and are engaged in outdoor occupations, and to all outward appearances are more robust and healthy. It is a remarkable fact, however, that the contrary is true. The figures in the appended table, giving the results of most recent official censuses

Country. Year. Annual Mortality per 1000. Mortality of
Christians
100, Jews—
Jews. Christians.
Algeria 1901 20.58 23.14 88.93
Roumania 1902 20.02 29.06 68.54
Cracow (Galicia) 1895-1900 19.70 35.90 64.00
Warsaw (Poland) 1901 18.22 24.59 74.09
European Russia 1897 17.82 36.49 48.81
Hungary 1903 17.29 27.24 63.47
Austria 1901 17.26 25.18 65.93
Hesse 1901-1904 14.80 19.10 77.48
Prussia 1904 14.22 20.44 69.57
Berlin 1904 13.32 17.12 77.80
Prague 1901 13.26 20.02 66.23
Budapest 1903 13.20 19.00 69.47
Amsterdam 1900 12.27 17.44 70.36
Bavaria 1902 12.11 23.08 52.47

in various countries, show that the rates are much lower among the Jews than among other Europeans. Only in Algeria and Roumania do the rates exceed twenty per 1,000 population, but in all the other mentioned countries the annual rates are less than twenty: In Poland (Cracow and Warsaw) it is between 18 and 19; in European Russia, Hungary and Austria, 17; in Prussia, 14; in the capitals of Prussia, Bohemia and Hungary, only 13; and in Amsterdam and Bavaria the low rates are almost unprecedented, only 12 per 1,000. A yet lower mortality rate was found among 10,618 Jewish families, including 60,630 persons living in the United States December 31, 1889. In the figures published in Census Bulletin No. 19 (Washington, December 30, 1890) it appears that the death rate was only 7.11 per 1,000, which is but 'little more than half the annual death rate among other persons of the same social class and conditions living in this country.'

The low death rates of the Jews are more strikingly demonstrated when compared with the mortality of the christian population of the countries in which they live. This is done in the fourth column of figures in the table; the mortality of the non-Jewish population is taken as 100. It is seen that the Jewish death rate in Algeria is but 89 per cent, of the mortality of the other Europeans in that country; in Bavaria it is a little over, and in European Eussia even less than, fifty per cent, of the christian mortality. In other words, the death rates of the Jews are from eleven to fifty per cent, less than those of the christians.

These favorable mortality rates of the Jews are not a recent phenomenon. At all times when statistics on the subject were compiled it was found to be the case. The censuses of Prussia give some very interesting figures in this connection. The rates since 1820 were as follows:

 

Average Annual Mortality per 1,000

Year Jews Christians
1820-66 20.40
1878-82 17.53 25.23
1888-92 15.71 23.26
1893-97 14.73 21.84
1900 14.96 21.70
1904 14.22 20.44

It is thus seen that the mortality in Prussia has been sinking in recent years among both Jews and christians, decreasing by about twenty per cent, since 1878 in both groups. This is of course to be attributed to advancement in economic, social, hygienic and sanitary conditions. But it is remarkable that there is no change in the ratio of Jewish to the christian mortality; it was in 1878 sixty-nine per cent. of the mortality of the christian and remained the same in 1904. Hungary is another country where reliable statistics are available for fifteen years. The figures are as follows:

 

Deaths per 1,000

Year Jews Christians
1891-95 19.07 33.12
1896-1900 16.87 27.62
1901 16.95 25.94
1902 17.42 27.89
1903 17.29 27.24

Here it is to be noted that the mortality of the Jews was in 1891 more favorable than in 1903. The decrease during the last fifteen years was more marked among the christians: In 1891 the Jewish mortality was 57.58 per cent, of the christian mortality, while in 1903 it was 63.47 per cent., which indicates that they are approaching the mortality rates of their non-Jewish neighbors. Data for Warsaw, Poland, show the same process: In 1882 the mortality was, Jews 24.48, general population 32.34; in 1891, Jews 20.27, general population 23.05; 1896, Jews 20.42, general population 23.54; in 1901, Jews 18.22, general population 21.22. All this indicates that in recent years the differences in the mortality between Jews and christians are being obliterated.

Death is a biological phenomenon, and can not be influenced by purely ethical or metaphysical factors, such as, for instance, religion, when Jews are compared with christians. Differences in religion are consequently not sufficient to explain the differences in the mortality rates between Jews and non-Jews. Nor can racial affinities explain completely the low mortality of the Jews, because physically the Jews bear a striking resemblance to the non-Jewish races and peoples among whom they live, and also because the differences in the rates are too large in each country to admit racial uniformity. A study of differences in social and economic conditions is more fruitful of results. Thus, in Budapest the death rate of the Jews was only 69.47 per cent, of that of the christians. But, as is aptly pointed out by Korosi, according to the census of 1891, out of every 1,000 inhabitants there were common laborers, among the catholics 118, among the Lutherans 125, among the Jews only 67; domestic servants were found, among 1,000 catholics 95, Lutherans 98, and among the Jews only 17; merchants were found, among 1,000 catholics 20, Lutherans 36, while among the Jews the figure was 131. These social differences are of sufficient importance to greatly influence the death rates and to account for the favorable showing made by the Jews. As is well known, certain occupations are more deadly than others. When to this are added other social factors which differentiate the Jews from the christians, such as the rarity of alcoholism and illegitimacy among the former, and the proverbial care bestowed by them on their offspring, thus contributing to a low infant mortality, the effects of the social factors become apparent.

 

Infant Mortality

All this is depicted in a striking manner when infantile mortality among Jews is considered. It appears, namely, from all available data that the Jews do not have the advantage over others when deaths of adults, particularly persons over fifty, are compared. It is only during infancy and childhood that fewer deaths occur among them. In Prussia, where the mortality rates are classified in the census reports according to the age of the individual whether he is less than or over fifteen years old, we find that the mortality of the young is less than one half that of the christians. In 1904 48.89 per cent, of all the deaths among christians in that country occurred in individuals less than fifteen years of age, while among the Jews only 19.78 per cent, of all deaths were in persons of these ages. In Berlin it was in 1904, christians 42.05 and Jews 20.28, also less than one half among the Jews. In Amsterdam the deaths recorded in 1900 were distributed by ages as follows:

Age Christians Jews
—1 25.23 per cent. 18.76 per cent.
1-13 15.68 per cent. 11.72 per cent.
13-64 33.58 per cent. 33.38 per cent.
64+ 25.51 per cent. 36.14 per cent.

Here also the mortality during infancy and childhood was smaller among the Jews than among the christians; between the ages of 13 to 64 it was equal among both classes, while among the old it was more frequent among the Jews. The same condition has been found in Hungary, where the mortality of children below seven years of age is 49.5 per cent, among the christian population, and only 43.69 per cent, among the Jews.

Objections may be raised against this method of calculating the mortality of children, because it must first be ascertained whether the distribution of the population by age classes is the same in both groups. This is particularly the case with the Jews, whose birth rates are lower than those of christians. A smaller number of births means a smaller number of infants, and consequently a smaller number of deaths. The best way to compare the mortality of Jews and christians is to calculate the proportion of deaths per 1,000 persons at each age period, i. e., to ascertain the death rates at each age in both classes, Jews and christians. But this is difficult because there are no available data published in census reports. The exact infantile mortality is, however, easily ascertained by finding the ratio of deaths of infants below one year old to the number of births in a given year (excluding still-births). In the following table are given some figures about the infant mortality in some European countries:

 

Deaths of Infants per 1,000 Births

Country Jews Christians
Amsterdam (1900) 92.77 139.56
European Russia (1897) 150.80 274.30
Cracow (1894-97) 155.47 170.84
Hungary (1902) 95.20 164.60
 

Here also a lower infant mortality is seen among the Jews. Of 1,000 Jewish children born among the Jews in Amsterdam during 1900, 907 survived the first year, while among the christians in that city only 861 survived; in Russia the figures stand, Jews 849, christians 726; and in Cracow, Jews 845 and christians 829. This has a great bearing on the expectation of life of the Jews. According to the calculations presented in Census Bulletin No. 19, 1890, the expectation of life of the Jews is much more favorable than that of the christian population of the United States. Assuming 100,000 Jewish individuals to have been born on the same day (among which there would probably be 50,684 males and 49,316 females), 45,680 males and 44,995 females will survive the first year; 41,731 males and 42,326 females will survive the fifth year, etc. At the end of about 71 years one half of them will be dead. Taking the data for Massachusetts for 1878-82, of 100,000 American infants born (among which there would probably be 51,253 males and 48,747 females) only 41,986 males and 41,310 females would survive the first year; 36,727 males and 36,361 females would survive the fifth year; and half of them would be dead at the end of about 47 years.

While these figures are open to criticism because, as has been pointed out by Hoffman, the method adopted for the calculation of the life-tables is not stated in detail, still it may be stated without any hesitation that the longevity of the Jews in the United States and Europe is superior to that of the non-Jewish population. There is also no doubt that this superiority is mainly due to the lower mortality during infancy and childhood. It is doubtful whether there are any differences in mortality rates during adolescence and middle life between Jews and christians. Among persons of advanced age, over fifty, the rates are higher among the Jews, simply because a larger number reach that age.

The lower mortality of Jewish infants is not due to any special inherent vitality, but finds its explanation in certain social causes: Jewesses in eastern Europe almost invariably nurse their infants at the breast, and it is rare to find among them an infant brought up on artificial feeding. The mortality of breast-fed children is much below that of hand-fed. Jewish mothers only rarely go to work after marriage, and can therefore bestow all possible care on their infants, which can not be said to be invariably true among the poorer classes of population in eastern Europe and America. In western Europe the Jews are economically on a higher plane than the general population, and when infant mortality is discussed it must be recalled that it is much smaller among the well-to-do than among the poor. The Jews should be compared with the wealthier classes of western Europe and not with the general population. To these social factors there must also be added the fact that the birth rates of the Jews are lower than those among the christians. A high mortality can not be expected when fewer children are born. In fact, in Russia, where the birth rate of the Jews is high (compared with conditions among western European Jews), the infant mortality is also higher, though not so high as the mortality of the Greek orthodox, whose birth rates are the highest in Europe.

Arthur Ruppin, who has studied the problem thoroughly, insists that the superiority of the expectation of life of the Jews is mainly due to the higher infant mortality among christians, which drags down the average duration of life. "To use a coarse example: The expectation of life of a christian child on the day of its birth is, roughly stated, about forty years, as against sixty years of the Jewish child; at the tenth birthday the probable duration of life of the christian child is fifty-five, while that of the Jewish child is sixty-five; and at the twentieth birthday the probable duration of life is, for both, seventy years, i. e., the expectation of life of the christian is equal to that of the Jew as soon as the christian has passed his years of infancy and childhood, and reached adolescence."

"The best illustration," Ruppin goes on to say, "of this condition, is perhaps to be seen when we take definite statistical data of a given city, say Budapest, Hungary. The mortality during 1902 was 14.17 per 1,000 among the Jews, and 21.81 among the christians. The Jews were favored by the following factors:

1. A Low Infantile Mortality.—The proportion of death of infants under one year was during that year 9.52 per cent, of all the births from Jewish mothers and 16.46 per cent, of all the births from christian mothers. If the infant mortality was as high among the Jews as among the christians the number of Jews who died during that year would have been larger by 320, and through that the mortality would have been increased by 1.89, i. e., the death rate would have been 16.06 instead of 14.17.

2. The Lower Birth Rate of the Jews.—The birth rate per 1,000 population was, namely, 27.29 among the Jews and 32.74 among the christians. If the Jews had relatively as many births as the christians had, the mortality rate, on the basis of the Jewish infant mortality just determined above, would have been larger by 0.48 per 1,000; their general death rate would have been increased to 16.54 from 16.06.

3. The Smaller Mortality of Children under Ten Years of Age (excepting Infants under One Year).—The proportion of deaths of children between one and ten years old was 2.15 per 1,000 among the Jews and 3.73 among the christians. If the Jewish mortality at these ages were as high as that of the christians, 266 more Jews would have died during that year, and the general mortality rates would have increased by 1.57 per 1,000, or instead of 16.54 it would have been 18.11.

In this manner one half of the difference in death rates between Jews and christians in Budapest is wiped out. It stands now as 18.11 for Jews, and 21.81 for christians. The remaining difference in the rates of 3.7 per 1,000 in favor of the Jews, can also be accounted for by other social factors, and no special physiological tenacity of life of the Jews need be considered as the cause. One has only to recall that alcoholism is very rare among the Jews, and that the Sabbath is a day of rest among the orthodox Jews in eastern Europe, and not of drink and dissipation, to find a reason for greater immunity to certain diseases, and to a lesser liability to accidental death. Their occupations also are mainly of the kind in which violent or accidental deaths are not of frequent occurrence. There are, relatively, very few Jews engaged in shipping, mining and dangerous trades generally. The deleterious effects of the indoor occupations in which the Jews are largely employed are mostly manifesting themselves in the anemia and poor physique which are characteristic of them. But, on the other hand, they are rarely exposed to the inclemencies of the weather, and thus acute articular rheumatism, pneumonia, etc., are less often a cause of death among them than among others. In fact, diseases of the respiratory organs, including tuberculosis, have been observed to be less commonly a cause of death among the Jews in Russia, Hungary, Austria, England and America.[1] Their partial immunity to consumption is astonishing, considering that they are mostly engaged at indoor occupations, working long hours in unhealthy sweatshops, and living in the most congested parts of the cities. Perhaps a good explanation may be found in the confined Ghetto life in which they have been compelled to live for centuries, and which has adapted their organism to indoor life much better than other civilized peoples, who have a large proportion of agriculturists and outdoor workers. During the long years of Ghetto life most of those whose organism could not adapt itself to the confined atmosphere succumbed and were thus eliminated. It is a general observation that races that are not adapted to indoor life quickly succumb to consumption as soon as they attempt to live in modern dwellings. Among the uncultured 'blanket' Indians of our western plains, and among the Indians of Peru, the Khirgiz Tartars and other savage tribes of Africa and Australia, all of which live outdoors, the disease is almost unknown. But as soon as the same people are taken to modern cities, they can not stand it, but soon contract various diseases common in large cities, particularly tuberculosis. They have not had the opportunity to slowly adapt themselves to an indoor existence, as was the case with the Jews.

 

Suicide

That purely social factors are the underlying cause of the low mortality rates of the Jews, and that with changes in their social conditions there occur also changes in the death rates, are well illustrated by the frequency of suicide among them. Statistics collected by Morselli (' Suicide,' p. 122) show that during the third quarter of the last century Jews only rarely committed suicide. He attributes it partly to racial, and partly to religious influences, and maintains that individuals fervently devoted to religion, especially women (nuns and lay sisters) furnish very few suicides. A study of more recent statistics about the Jews confirms this view. In eastern Europe and the orient, where they are ardently devoted to their religion, a Jewish suicide is very rare; in some cities in Russia or Galicia, with over 20,000 Jews, more than ten years often pass without a Jew taking his own life. During the first half of the last century, when the social and economic condition of the Jews in western Europe was not much superior to that of their eastern European coreligionists of to-day, self-destruction was also rare among them. With the decline of the intensity of religious belief which is characteristic of the contemporaneous Jews in western Europe and America an adoption of the habits and customs of the christian population has been noted, among which suicide may be mentioned as a social fact important for study.

In eastern Europe suicide is even to-day less frequent among the Jewish than among the christian population. In Cracow, for instance, one per cent, of all the deaths during 1895-1900 was self-inflicted among the christians, as against only 0.4 per cent, among the Jews; in Budapest, Hungary, the rates in 1902 were as follows:

 

Number of Suicides pee 1,000 Population

Christians Jews
Men 6.79 4.61
Women 2.35 1.00
Total 4.44 2.88

Suicide is here less frequent among the Jews than among others. But proceeding to western Europe, where the Jews are affected by what Morselli characterizes as the 'universal and complex influence to which we give the name civilization' the proportion of suicides is at present much larger among the Jews than among christians, although but fifty years ago it was uncommon. Thus in Würtemberg during 1846-60 the rate was on the average annually among protestants 113.5, among catholics 77.9, and among Jews only 65.6 per 1,000,000 population. During 1898-1902 the rates increased to 252 among the Jews and to only 162.7 among the christians. In Bavaria the suicide rates were during 1844-56, Jews 105.9, protestants 135.4 and catholics 49.1 per 1,000,000. Since 1870 a steady increase was noted as follows:

 

Number of Suicides per 1,000,000 Population

Catholics Protestants Jews
1870-79 73.5 194.6 115.3
1880-89 95.3 221.7 185.8
1890-99 92.7 210.2 212.4

The increase in the rates of self-destruction among the Jews has thus been so pronounced within the thirty years since 1870 that it is now much higher than among the christian population of Bavaria. The greatest increase has, however, been observed in Prussia. During 1849-55 it was rare among them, only 46.4 per million Jews, as against 49.6 among catholics, and 159.9 among protestants. It so increased in frequency that during 1869-72 it was, Jews 96, catholics 69 and protestants 187; and the increase during the following years was so severe that the Jews outstripped the christians during 1892-1901.

 

Rates of Suicide pee 1,000,000 Population

Men Women
Jews 370.4 124.1
Christians 321.5 81.1

All these figures show conclusively that the rates of suicide among the Jews are not at all influenced by ethnic factors. The social environment is solely responsible for the infrequency of self-destruction among the Jews in eastern Europe, where they live in strict adherence to their faith and traditions; while in western Europe, where they comingle with their christian neighbors, adopting their habits and customs, the rates of suicide increase. Considering that there is a lesser number of children among the Jews, and that suicide is rare among the young, and that they are mostly town dwellers, engaged in mercantile and financial pursuits, there is good reason for the higher rates among them than among others. Further proof of the influence of environment is adduced by the fact that with a change of environment there is also a perceptible change in the suicide rates. The Jewish immigrants in New York city are much given to self-destruction, although in their native homes suicide is very rare. There are no available statistics as to the exact annual number of Jewish suicides in New York city, but an inquiry by Mr. John Paley, editor of a Yiddish daily, elicited the following information: "About fifteen years ago suicide was uncommon among the immigrant Jews, so much so that I always gave each case reported a prominent place in my paper. To-day conditions have changed. There are so many cases of Jewish suicides that unless it is a prominent person, or there are special news features connected with the case, I do not at all mention it in the columns of my daily." He estimates that there are six Jewish suicides on the average weekly in New York City. If this figure is near the truth, and I am inclined to believe it is, then the suicide rate among the Jews in New York is appalling. The aversion to self-destruction of the eastern European Jew is thus seen not to be racial. As soon as he is brought face to face with a more complex life in New York City, as soon as his devotion to his religion is more or less dwindling, any serious reverse in life is liable to discourage him to the extent of causing him to terminate his existence.

 

IV. Natural Increase of Population

From the preceding studies it was evident that the birth, marriage and death rates were everywhere in Europe lower among the Jews than among their non-Jewish neighbors. It is of importance now to inquire what are the effects of these low rates on the increase of the Jewish population. Population increases, as is well known, by the excess of the number of births over deaths, and it is important to inquire whether the small birth rates of the Jews are everywhere compensated by the low death rates, or whether even their low mortality is insufficient to leave a substantial surplus because the number of births is so small as to be insufficient to replace those lost annually by deaths.

In general terms it can be stated that there are two ways by which a population may replace its losses by deaths: First, by a high birth rate much in excess of the death rate. This is usually the rule in communities in a low state of culture, among agricultural classes, and also among the poorer and laboring classes in European and American industrial centers. The death rate, especially the infant mortality, is very high, but this is compensated by early marriages, and a substantial prolificacy. On the whole, the average duration of life is, in such communities, comparatively short; the population is being renewed at frequent intervals.

Communities in a higher state of culture, on the other hand, have generally lower birth, marriage and death rates, particularly the infant mortality is more favorable. It requires a longer period of time for such a community to renew its population, because the average duration of life is superior. This is observed generally among the upper ten thousand of modern civilized states, particularly in large cities. From a sociological and economic standpoint this method of perpetuation of the population, if kept within certain limits, has its advantages over the former method. To use Spencer's terminology, it decreases the expenditure on genesis, leaving sufficient for individual evolution. In other words, the smaller the number of children born has as a concomitant a smaller infant mortality, and also gives the parents an opportunity to raise their offspring on a more desirable standard.

A glance at the figures brought together in the preceding studies shows that the Jews, judged by the social and economic environment in which we found them, can be placed in either one of the mentioned classes of fertility. To begin with the natural increase, i. e., the annual excess of births over deaths per 1,000 population, it is found that there are great differences between eastern and western European Jews.

Country. Excess of Births
Over Deaths.
Country. Excess of Births
Over Deaths.
Jews. Christians. Jews. Christians.
Algeria (1901) 24.09 9.43 Prague (1901) 2.59 11.23
Cracow (1899) 17.70 1.30 Berlin (1904) 3.70 10.24
European Russia (1897) 17.61 16.87 Prussia (1904) 4.49 16.49
Austria (1901) 16.63 11.83 Bavaria (1900) 4.60 12.60
Hungary (1903) 14.90 10.68 Hesse (1901-1904) 4.70 14.90
Roumania (1902) 12.34 13.80

In the former the excess is large, while in the latter it is small. This is seen from the table given above.

In Algeria, the only oriental country where vital statistics of the Jews are published, the natural increase is very great. The social conditions of the native Jews in that country are purely oriental. Early marriages are the rule, and celibacy almost unknown. This brings about a high rate of fertility; their birth rate was 44.67 per 3,000, with a correspondingly high mortality rate of 20.58. But after all the excess of births over deaths is large, reaching annually 24.09 per 1,000. In European Russia, where social conditions of the Jews are more occidental, the excess of births is smaller, only 17.61; in Austria, 16.63; in Hungary, 14.90, and in Roumania, 12.34. All these eastern European Jews show rates of natural increase characteristic of eastern people. Proceeding to western Europe we find a different condition of affairs. The rates of proliferation are low, owing to the low marriage and birth rates; even their favorable mortality rates are insufficient to leave a substantial excess of births over deaths. Thus in Bavaria the natural increase was during 1900 only 4.60, while among the non-Jewish population it was nearly three times as large, 12.6; in Prussia the natural increase was in 1904, Jews 4.49, and christians 16.4; in cities it is even lower, only 3.70 in Berlin (10.24 among christians) and in Prague 2.59 (11.29 among christians). The influence of social and economic conditions on the natural increase of the Jews is well displayed in the various provinces of the Austrian Empire. In Galicia, where the majority of the Jews live in poverty and want, and are rigidly devoted to their religion, the natural increase was during 100, 17.92 per 1,000 (christians, 16.61); in Bukowina, where conditions are about the same, it was 12.66 (christians,15.83); but in Lower Austria where their social, intellectual and economic conditions are much superior, it was only 7.69, while in Bohemia, where the majority of the Jews are well-to-do and are socially comparable with the western European Jews, the natural increase is very low, lower even than in Berlin, only 1.35 per 1,000 (christians, 10.76). There are good reasons to believe that in Italy, France, England and the United States, the same conditions prevail among the native Jews.

These conditions are only a recent phenomenon among the Jews in western Europe. During the first half of the nineteenth century the excess of births over deaths was equal, and even superior to that of the christians. In Prussia, for instance, the average annual birth rate during 1822-40 was 35.46; the death rate, 21.44; leaving an excess of births over deaths of 14.02 per 1,000, as against only 10.40 among the christian population (births 40.01 and deaths 29.61). This excess began to sink gradually but regularly, as can be seen from the following figures:

Excess of Births over Deaths

Jews Christians
1885 10.33 12.29
1890 7.64 12.58
1895 6.66 15.12
1900 4.52 14.57
1904 4.49 16.49

Similar conditions are observed in Bavaria, where the natural increase was larger among the Jews than among the christians in 1876, when a decline began to be noted among both groups, but with a much greater severity among the Jews than among the christians.

Jews Christians
1876 15.8 14.1
1880 12.9 10.8
1885 9.9 10.0
1890 6.0 8.8
1895 4.8 12.4
1900 4.6 12.6

The excess of births over deaths among the Jews has thus dwindled to less than one third in Prussia since 1822, and in Bavaria to a little over one third since 1876. This decline in the natural increase of the Jews is not only characteristic of western European Jews, but is also beginning to be noted in eastern Europe. In Hungary, where the rate was among the non-Jewish population only 9.69 during 1891-95, and with slight fluctuations rose to 10.68 in 1903, the tendency among the Jews was decidedly in the opposite direction. It was 17.79 during 1891-1895, and sank to 16.07 in 1901 and even to 14.90 in 1903. The same conditions are observed among Jews in other European countries.

 

V. Summary and Conclusions

The demographic facts presented in the preceding studies lead to but one generalization: The birth, marriage and death rates of the Jews may be taken as an index of their social, economic and intellectual conditions. Wherever they are isolated by hostile legislation, compelled to live apart from the general population, confined in Ghettos, thus deprived of every opportunity to enter into intimate social intercourse with christians; wherever, largely as a result of this isolation, they are on a low economic and intellectual standard, their birth and marriage rates are high, their death rates, particularly the infant mortality, correspondingly high, and practically no intermarriage with christians takes place. Hostile legislation against the Jews is shown, by the evidence presented above, to utterly fail in its aims. Repression of the Jews in countries like Russia has mainly one object in view: To make their life so miserable and unbearable as to induce them to adopt Christianity, which removes all disabilities. How far this policy fails in its aims can be seen from the fact that conversions of Jews to Christianity are comparatively rare in Russia and Roumania, while, in common with all others who are on a low social and economic level, their natural increase, i. e., the excess of births over deaths is enormous among them. They increase in number in spite of the attempt to check them. This is substantiated by the statistical evidence gathered from the censuses of Russia, Roumania, Poland, Galicia, etc.

On the other hand, in western Europe, in Germany, Italy, France, England and in America, where the Jews are enjoying civil liberty on an equal basis with the general population, and where they are, as a result, on a superior plane socially, intellectually and economically, their birth and marriage rates are so low, that even with phenomenally low death rates there is left a very small excess of births over deaths, in fact they show a striking retrogression and decadence. This decadence is by no means accidental, but can be traced as due to the remarkable development they have been undergoing during the last seventy-five years, and also to the social intercourse with gentiles which in addition also brings about mixed marriages. The children born to these mixed couples are lost to the Jews, less than twenty-five per cent, and there is good reason to believe that hardly more than ten per cent, remain Jews, while the rest is net gain to Christianity. On the whole, the native Jews in western Europe and America are being decimated by a low birth rate, and absorbed by intermarriage with christians. Any increase in their number is due to immigration from eastern Europe.

The demographic facts presented by the Jews may also be taken as an index of their religious status. In the orient and in eastern Europe, where the devotion to their faith is intense, they have high birth rates, early marriages, substantial excess of births over deaths, and no intermarriages with christians occur. In western Europe and in America conditions are different and go hand in hand with an evident lessened intensity of faith, often amounting to religious indifference. In fact, the cruel persecutions and massacres to which they were exposed during the last two thousand years have not robbed the Jews of as large a proportion of adherents as modern emancipation with its concomitant adaptation of the habits and customs of modern civilized life. To take Russia as an example. There the Jews are oppressed mainly with one aim in view: to gain them for the Greek orthodox church. As soon as he adopts Christianity, the Jew, besides receiving a bonus of thirty silver roubles, is also given all the rights enjoyed by the christian population. But notwithstanding all these tempting advantages offered, less than 90,000 Jews were converted during the nineteenth century. In contrast with this may be taken Prussia, where the number of Jews is only 392,322 (1900) as against about 5,500,000 in Russia. Here, according to J. de la Roi, as many as 13,128 Jews have been directly converted to Christianity during the nineteenth century, and since mixed marriages were legalized in 1875, 10,160 Jews married christians; in Russia no such marriages have taken place, except of those who adopted Christianity and are included among the converts. In Russia the birth rate was 35.43 in 1897, not much lower than in the beginning of the last century. On the other hand, in Prussia the rates were high in 1822-40—35.46—but kept on sinking since their emancipation, reaching 18.71 in 1904. In other words, if the Jews in Prussia had remained in their original civil condition, unaffected by modern conditions of life, they would have maintained their birth rates as the Jews in Russia, and the number of children born during 1904 would have been about 13,000 instead of 6,913, as was the case. During the thirty years, 1875-1904, there occurred altogether 267,775 births by Jewish mothers in Prussia. If they had maintained their birth rates at 35 per 1,000, the number born would have been about 385,000 during that period. The decline in fertility has consequently caused a loss of 117,000 to the Jews, and if to this are added the large number of conversions and of mixed marriages, which have taken place in that country during these thirty years, it is evident that the total loss sustained by Judaism was larger in Prussia where there are less than 400,000 Jews, than among the 5,500,000 Jews in Russia during the entire nineteenth century.

The results of these conditions are seen when the relative number of Jews in Germany is considered. In 1861 there were 138 Jews to 10,000 christians; in 1900 the number sank to 114, and the last census taken in 1905 shows another decrease—there are only 109.8 Jews to 10,000 christians. The same has been the case with the Jews in other German provinces, excepting Saxony:

 

Number of Jews per 10,000 Christians

1870 1900
Germany 125 104
Prussia 133 114
Würtemberg 67 55
Bavaria 104 89
Baden 176 140
Hessen 297 219
Saxony 13 30

Although there was a large emigration of Germans who left for America and for German colonies, still there was an enormous increase of population in that country. In contrast with this increase are the Jews in that country: although very few emigrated within the last thirty years, and many Jews from other countries have immigrated to Germany, still they have not kept pace with the general increase of population, and in fact show a relative decrease in number. And judging by the fact that the birth and marriage rates keep on decreasing, while the mixed marriages and conversions to Christianity keep on increasing in number, as was shown in the preceding articles, the future of Judaism in Germany is, to put it mildly, not very bright. The same process of decadence is observed among the Jews in Italy, France, England, America, etc., in varying degrees of intensity. If immigration of Jews from eastern Europe should for some reason cease, the number of native Jews in these countries would dwindle away at a rate appalling to those who have the interests of their faith at heart. In the United States the original Jewish settlers, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of the seventeenth, eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries who refrained from intermarriage with their German and Polish coreligionists, have practically disappeared; very few of them have been left. The Jews are thus paying a high price for their liberty and equality—self-effacement.

Another important conclusion we arrive at while studying the above facts and figures is that most of the demographic phenomena are not rooted in ethnic causes. The high rates of proliferation, the exclusiveness of the Jews manifesting itself in part by endogamy, the alleged excessive proportion of male births, the rates of suicide, etc., were all attributed to racial influences, to 'Semitic' characteristics. This opinion has its origin in the observations on Jews made during the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, when the Jews all over Europe were a homogeneous social mass, all to the same extent abused, persecuted and confined in Ghettos. Uniformity of social conditions brought about uniform demographic phenomena, which were considered racial traits. But the emancipation of the Jews in western European countries, releasing them from isolation, bringing them into intimate contact with their non-Jewish neighbors, has completely transformed them. Racial traits are not to be obliterated by a change of milieu during a comparatively short period of fifty or one hundred years, nor do they show such wide limits of variation as is displayed by the Jews in different countries. There are to-day more pronounced differences between the Jews in Prussian Poland and Eussian Poland than between Prussian and Italian Jews, although but one hundred years ago the Prussian and Polish Jews were demographically on the same level. The part of Poland which was taken by Prussia with its liberal government has given the Jews an opportunity to assimilate with the christian population, while in the part of that country taken by Russia they were compelled to live isolated from the general population and they remained backward.

The demographic phenomena of the Jews are rooted in the social, economic and intellectual conditions in which they find themselves.

  1. See 'The Relative Infrequeney of Tuberculosis among Jews,' by the author, in American Medicine, November 2, 1901.