Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 42.djvu/655

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THE DECREASE OF RURAL POPULATION.

bering 901,644, as against a rural population of 969,643. In this, as in some other respects, the conditions of life in California suggest resemblances to those existing in the Australian colonies. Australia, together with New Zealand and Tasmania, had in 1891 a population slightly less than that of the United States in 1790. This population is scattered over an area several times more extensive than was that of this country before Napoleon sold us Louisiana; and yet in Australia a larger proportion of the entire population resides in cities of 8,000 inhabitants or upward than is the case in the United States even to-day.

The ratio of urban to rural population is increasing rapidly over almost all the civilized world. In many countries large areas have recently experienced an absolute loss of rural inhabitants. The census of 1891 shows that the population of the urban sanitary districts of England increased since 1881 about fifteen per cent, as against an increase in the rural districts of less than four per cent. Some of the more purely rural counties of England show an actual decrease of aggregate population, as do no less than nine of the twelve counties of "Wales and sixteen out of the thirty-three counties of Scotland. In the last-mentioned country the rural population of the entire kingdom is a fraction less than it was ten years ago. In Ireland the contrast is still greater. Out of its thirty-two counties there are only two which have not less population than in 1881. These two are Dublin and Antrim, containing the cities of Dublin and Belfast respectively. The sixteen Irish cities and towns with 10,000 inhabitants or over have increased on the average at the rate of something over six per cent, while the rest of the country has suffered a loss of nearly twelve per cent. In France the increase of total population in the five years from 1886 to 1891 was but 124,289, while the gain in the population of the fifty-six cities having over 30,000 inhabitants was 340,396. Outside of these cities there was an actual decrease of 216,107. In Germany two thirds of the total increase of population between 1885 and 1890 was in the 150 places having over 20,000 inhabitants each, although these places contain not more than one fifth of the entire population of the empire.

Something over a century ago Jefferson, in his Notes on Virginia, arguing against the establishment of manufactures in this country, declared that, "generally speaking, the proportion which the aggregate of the other classes of citizens bears in any State to that of its husbandmen is the proportion of its unsound to its healthy parts, and is a good enough barometer whereby to measure its degree of corruption." Popular feeling almost everywhere seems to view with something of Jefferson's apprehension that change in the proportion of urban to rural population now so