Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/121

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IMPORTANCE OF STATISTICAL IDEAS.

increases disproportionately. In the last census especially it was found that the overflow of population over the far Western States seemed to have been checked, the increase of population being mainly in the older States and the towns and cities of the older States. The phenomena in England and Germany and in other Continental countries are accordingly not singular. The older countries, and the older parts even of a new country like the United States are becoming more and more the centers where populations live and grow, because they are the most convenient places for the general exchange of services with each other among the component parts of a large population, which constitutes production and consumption. A small expenditure of effort in proportion enables such communities to obtain from a distance the food and raw materials which they require. Migration is no longer the necessity that it was.

Decline in Rate of Growth of Population.

I come now to another idea appearing on the surface of the census returns when they are compared for a long time past, and the connected returns of births, marriages and deaths, which have now been kept in most civilized communities for generations. Great as the increase of population is with which we have been dealing, there are indications that the rate of growth in the most recent census periods is less in many quarters than it formerly was, while there has been a corresponding decline in the birth-rates; and to some extent, though not to the same extent, in the rate of the excess of births over deaths, which is the critical rate of course in a question of the increase of population. These facts have suggested to some a question as to how far the increase of population which has been so marked in the past century is likely to continue, and speculations have been indulged in as to whether there is a real decline in the fecundity of population among the peoples in question resembling the decline in France, both in its nature and consequences. I do not propose to discuss all these various questions, but rather to indicate the way in which the problem is suggested by the statistics, and the importance of the questions thus raised for discussion, as a proof of the value of the continuous statistical records themselves.

The United States naturally claims first attention in a matter like this, both on' account of the magnitude of the increase of population there, and the evidence that recent growth has not been quite the same as it was earlier in the century. Continuing a table which was printed in my address as president of the Statistical Society, in 1882, above referred to, we find that the growth of population in the United States since 1800 has been as follows in each census period: