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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/833

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THE UNIFORMITY OF SOCIAL PHENOMENA.

may remember other men who have died in the flower of their youth. All these things seem to us accidental and unaccountable; but social physiology shows that they, as well as other human movements, are governed by fixed and irrevocable laws.

We might expect some regularity in the rates of births and deaths, for these are necessarily conformable to the laws of Nature; but there is something to cause surprise in the fixedness of the rates, and the regular grouping of the various conceivable cases. It is also a curious fact that not only do a certain number of children come to each population year after year, but that the nativity figure also forms a characteristic trait of individual nations, and that in any particular course of years, when the regularity is not disturbed by any external cause, like a war or an epidemic, it hardly varies by a decimal part. This regularity extends even to the proportion of those who are born of either sex, the general average of which is expressed by the numbers—100 girls to 105·38, or, including still-born, 106'31 boys; and if this proportion is disturbed in any one year, it is almost certain to be made up in the following year.

International statistics show also a remarkable steadiness in the proportions characteristic of different countries of legitimate and illegitimate births, of quick and still-born, of twins, triplets, etc., which the complications often prevailing in the combinations only bring more clearly to light.

The same regularity is manifested in the death-rates, in which, whether we take long or short periods of time, the deviations from the fixed average are very slight; and all the acquisitions of modern civilization, with the great improvements that have been made in medical science and its applications, have not yet effected a material prolongation of the average of human life.

If any fundamental social fact is voluntary it is marriage; yet the ratio of marriages to the population is in most countries even more constant than that of deaths. The same regularity prevails in the peculiar features of the marriages; the same proportions of the marrying pairs are constituted of both single persons, widows and bachelors, widowers and spinsters, or both widowed. A curious uniformity prevails in the matter of disparity of ages, and other exceptional features, and finally of separations and divorced persons, of second, third, and more numerously repeated marriages. Each country has its own times of year or months when the most marriages take place. They are February and November in France, Austria, and Italy; May in Holland and Belgium; November and December in Sweden and Norway; and the fewest marriages take place in March, July, and August in France, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands; in August and December in Austria.

The intellectual qualities of a people do not lend themselves to measurement so readily as do the concrete peculiarities we have no-