Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/455

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

it is questionable whether the birth-rate exceeds the death-rate—that is, there is no addition to the population by natural increase.

Should this birth-rate continue to decrease as it has for the last twenty or thirty years, the effect will become more and more manifest than it has in the past. The Board of Health for New Hampshire, having charge of the registry of births and deaths in the State, in their report just published, state an important fact bearing on this point. After carefully analyzing the births and deaths in 1880 to draw the line between the foreign and the American, the board make out that the deaths among the Americans exceed the births by eight hundred.

That is, New Hampshire lost population from this source. If this same test of birth and death rate as reported in New Hampshire should be found to apply to all the other New England States, the record would not be very creditable for the past nor encouraging for the future. In making comparison between the birth and death rate the latter must always be carefully taken into account. If the death rate is unusually large, it affects at once the gain by natural increase. In New England the death-rate generally is not high, which is more favorable for the rate of increase. The same is true in Great Britain, but the birth-rate is much higher there than here. Thus large additions are made there to population by natural increase, far more than in New England. In France for several years the death-rate has been rather high, so that allowance must be made. As a matter of fact, the comparison with foreign nations is decidedly unfavorable to the New-Englander.

According to the latest and most authentic reports, the birth-rate of the New England States is less than that of any large European nation except France. And this birth-rate of New England is based upon both the foreign and American classes: could the latter be eliminated from the former, it would make the birth-rate of the strictly American even much lower than that of France.

It is well understood that population is steadily decreasing in certain portions of France, and that this decrease is every year extending. This decline in numbers is attracting more and more the thoughtful attention of the French savants, and the inquiry is made for the causes and the remedies. It may be found to resemble certain diseases, the causes of which can readily be discovered, but the remedies can not easily be applied.

Foreign Population in New England.—Of all the changes in New England, the introduction of the foreign element is the most important. The facts respecting the history of this immigration and the extent to which it has reached can be obtained, but no human sagacity can fully foresee its results. There are, however, certain features in these changes which should be carefully studied, and the developments or tendencies growing out of them should be better understood. More facts—more knowledge—are needed on this subject. What,