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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/652

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

their insurance upon slight provocation, there are few indeed, of those that think their health impaired, that will do so. The result is, that an undue proportion of the sickly will remain, and exert a deteriorating influence upon the average mortality.

Finally, it must not be forgotten that there is, after all, a considerable difference in the middle ages between the English life table and the insurance tables, particularly the American Experience Table. This latter, Mr. Romans states, has the effect of selection carefully eliminated, and therefore indicates a higher rate of mortality than the actual experience. As a matter of fact, all well-managed insurance companies, doing a sufficiently large business to furnish the basis for reliable averages, and having a constant accession of new lives experience more or less gain over the tables in use.

Before dismissing this subject, one question of a general character yet remains to be answered, viz., how do, or may, epidemics affect the average rate of mortality?

As regards the possibilities of the future, it is strictly a problem for medical and sanitary science; but we may be allowed to draw some inferences from the past records of a well-ordered state.

In 1849 a cholera epidemic, of a very malignant type, prevailed in England, considerably increasing the mortality for that year.

The number of deaths for the five years from 1848 to 1852 were as follows:

1848 398,385
1849 440,883
1850 368,602
1851 395,396
1852 407,135
—————
2,010,401

It will be noticed that in 1849 the increase over the previous year was about 42,000, while in the following year, 1850, there was a falling off to 30,000 below the number of deaths in 1848. For the period of five years from 1848 to 1852 the annual average of 400,000 remained undisturbed. This would indicate that, when through a powerful influence an excessive death-rate prevails, a large proportion of the weak and sickly is carried off, so that by way of compensation the surviving, healthier population will for a time show a mortality below the average. It is also well known that such inflictions are largely confined to the dirtiest and most crowded quarters, and carry off principally the poor and improvident. As these classes do not insure their lives, the mortality experience of insurance companies is no more likely to be seriously affected by epidemics in the future than it has been in the past.