Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/690

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
672
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

lificacy of foreign-born mothers who came previous to the beginning of the decade. The foreigners among us have larger families than the natives of the North generally. So large a proportion of immigrants come in the prime of life, that, though the males predominate, foreigners have a larger percentage of increase than natives, even if their families were not larger. While the proportion of foreign-born white females from twenty to forty years of age was (in 1870) 23 per cent, of the entire foreign-born population, the proportion of native white females of corresponding age was not quite 13·8 per cent, of the native white population; but, of course, this great disparity is due in part to the fact that the American-born children of foreigners are counted, not with the foreigners, but with the natives. It is a fact little thought of, that the number of foreign-born white females from twenty to forty years of age is nearly one fourth of all the white females of that age in the United States. In 1870 the number of native white females of this age in the whole country was 3,867,617, and of the foreign 1,260,965, the latter being 24·6 per cent, of the whole. How is it for the Northern States alone?

It is deducible, from the report of 1870, that the foreign-born females in the North, between the ages of twenty and forty years, numbered 1,119,000, while the native-born white females of like age in the same States numbered 2,532,000, the foreign being 30·6 per cent, of the whole. A similar calculation shows that in the South the proportion of foreign-born in the period of motherhood was but 9·6 per cent. Granted an excess of prolificacy in our foreign families over the native, the advantage thereof to the rate of increase accrues wholly to the North. It is not probable that foreigners in this country are any more prolific than, or, indeed, quite as prolific as, the native Southern whites.

On the admission of greater prolificacy in immigrants generally than in Northern natives, the points to be met are so numerous that any arithmetical statement of them would be rather complicated and tedious. We let that pass with the statement of an assured belief that, if proper allowance were made for this element of the problem, the ratio of increase in the native white population of the North would be shown to be very little, if any, above 12 per cent. But we omit this. The comparative rate of increase may then be recapitulated as follows: Native whites North, 15·7 per cent.; whites South, 30·4 per cent.; colored in the United States (allowing 1·5 per cent, for error in census of 1870), 33·3 per cent.

I am aware that the division-line assumed in this statement between the North and South is quite arbitrary, and that where the border States meet there is comparatively little divergence in the characteristics referred to; but some such line had to be assumed to bring out the lesson of this study, and that which has been used probably involves as little disturbance of results as any.