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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/115

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105
HUMAN SELECTION.

intensify the selection thus exercised. It is well known that females are largely in excess of males in our existing population, and this fact, if it were a necessary and permanent one, would tend to weaken the selective agency of women, as it undoubtedly does now. But there is good reason to believe that it will not be a permanent feature of our population. The births always give a larger proportion of males than females, varying from three and a half to four per cent. But boys die so much more rapidly than girls that when we include all under the age of five the numbers are nearly equal. For the next five years the mortality is nearly the same in both sexes; then that of females preponderates up to thirty years of age; then up to sixty that of men is the larger, while for the rest of life female mortality is again greatest. The general result is that at the ages of most frequent marriage—from twenty to thirty-five—females are between eight and nine per cent in excess of males. But during the ages from five to thirty-five we find a wonderful excess of male deaths from two preventible causes—"accident" and "violence." For the year 1888 the deaths from these causes in England and Wales were as follows:

Males (0 to 35 years), 4,158.
Females (5 to 35 years), 1,100.[1]

Here we have an excess of male over female deaths in one year of 3,058, all between the ages of five and thirty-five, a very large portion of which is no doubt due to the greater risks run by men and boys in various industrial occupations. In a state of society in which the bulk of the population were engaged in industrial work it is quite certain that almost all these deaths would be prevented, and thus bring the male population more nearly to an equality with the female. But there are also many unhealthy employments in which men are exclusively engaged, such as the grinders of Sheffield, the white-lead manufacturers, and many others; and many more men have their lives shortened by labor in unventilated workshops, to say nothing of the loss of life in war. When the lives of all its citizens are accounted of equal value to the community, no one will be allowed to suffer from such preventible causes as these; and this will still further reduce the mortality of men as compared with that of women. On the whole, then, it seems highly probable that in the society of the future the superior numbers of males at birth will be maintained throughout life, or, at all events, during what may be termed the marriageable period. This will greatly increase the influence of women in the improvement of the race. Being a minority, they will be more sought after, and will have a real choice in marriage, which is rarely the case now. This actual minority being fur-


  1. Annual Report of the Registrar General, 1888, pp. 106-7.