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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/649

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Thus it appears that, with the exception of the period from fifteen to thirty-seven, where the larger mortality can be easily explained on physiological grounds, females have a far better chance of life than males. This is particularly marked in the first year of life, and after fifty-three years of age.

Some of the results deduced from this table will no doubt surprise many. It is not commonly assumed that age thirteen is the healthiest in life, or that so large a proportion of infants will reach as high an age as is here indicated. Nor is it generally known that more boys are born than girls, and that the weaker sex has such decided advantages in life over the stronger. But, while nearly five per cent, more male than female infants are born, the very reverse appears in the whole population, there being about five per cent, more females living than males. Of course, these proportions refer to England only, and they vary in different countries, according to conditions and influences that the reader can readily picture to himself.

English Life Table No. 3 marks an epoch in statistical science, and the results obtained are valuable and sufficiently reliable for practical purposes, but much yet remains to be done to satisfy scientific inquiry. An annual census, which is strongly urged, would allow a closer and more frequent examination of facts, and reduce mathematical speculation to a minimum.

One question of grave importance can not yet be considered as definitively settled; it is whether the rate of mortality is steadily declining, and the duration of life is correspondingly extending. In a general way, and as compared with former centuries, there can be no doubt that a marked improvement is to be found. Take the population of England as an illustration:

It was estimated in 1651 at 5,450,000
" " 1751 at 6,400,000
Census of 1801 at 8,892,536
" 1851 at 17,927,609

This shows an increase of seventeen and a half per cent, for the century from 1651 to 1751, of thirty-nine per cent, for the fifty years to 1801, and of one hundred and one and a half per cent, for fifty years to 1851.

These rapid strides are not astonishing when we consider the epidemics, the internal strife, the famines, and insufficient means of communication, the disorderly and unsettled habits of former times, and compare them with the better hygiene, the greater comforts, and the generally refining influences of the present. But this increasing ratio of growth may be due either to a larger percentage of births, or to a smaller proportion of deaths, or to both causes combined. Statistics seem to indicate that both factors are even now contributing to this result. In 1841, out of 1,000 of the population, 15·4 were married dur-