Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/127

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IMPORTANCE OF STATISTICAL IDEAS.

Here the birth-rates, to begin with, are not so high as in Australasia, and presumably in the United States, and the excess of births over deaths, though it has declined a good deal since 1871-81, when it was highest, has been by comparison fairly well maintained, being still 11 per 1,000, as compared with 12.2 in 1851.

We have thus on one side a manifest decline in the rate of growth of population in three large groups of population, coupled with a large decline of birth-rates in England and Australasia where the facts are known, and a smaller decline in the rate of the excess of births over deaths, this decline in England as yet being comparatively small. Such facts cannot but excite inquiry, and it is an excellent result of the use of continuous statistical records that the questions involved can be so definitely raised.

As I have stated, it would be foreign to the object of this paper to discuss fully the various questions thus brought up for discussion, but one or two observations may be made having regard to some inferences which are somewhat hastily drawn.

1. The rate of growth of population of the communities may still be very considerable, even if it is no higher than it has been in the last few years. A growth of 16, 15, or even 12 per cent, in ten years, owing to the excess of births over deaths, is a very considerable growth, though it is much less than the larger figures which existed in some parts forty or fifty years ago. What has happened in the United Kingdom is well worth observing in this connection. Since 1840 the population of the United Kingdom as a whole has increased nearly 60 per cent., although the increase in most of the decades hardly ever exceeded 8 per cent., and in 1840-50 was no more than 212 per cent. The increase, it must be remembered, goes on at a compound ratio, and in. a few decades an enormous change is apparent. The increase from about 170 to 510 millions in the course of the last century among European people generally, though it includes the enormous growth of the United States in those decades, when the rate of growth was at the highest, also includes the slower growth of other periods, and the slower growths of other countries. An addition of even 10 per cent, only as the average every ten years would far more than double the 500 millions in a century, and an increase to at least 1,500 millions during the century now beginning, unless some great change should occur, would accordingly appear not improbable.

2. Some of the rates of growth of population from which there has been a falling off of late years were obviously quite abnormal. I refer especially to the growth in Australasia between 1850 and 1880, and the growth in the United States prior to 1860. They were largely due to the indirect effect of immigration which has been already referred to.

The population to which immigrants are largely added in a few