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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 61.djvu/334

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328
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

MARRIAGE AMONG EMINENT MEN.
BY Professor EDWARD L. THORNDIKE,

TEACHERS COLLEGE, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.

THE failure of the human race to reproduce at the top has been the cause of frequent complaints by students of society. The necessity of improving the human species by perpetuating desirable strains and restricting the increase of defectives, delinquents and dependents has impressed every thoughtful observer of human affairs and led him to wonder to what extent various classes of men share in producing the next generation. The reply has commonly been the cheerless dogma that the top strata of society are constantly dying out, that gifted men and women marry much less and later and have fewer children than the thoughtless multitude.

I have tested two of these claims in the case of the eminent men of our own country. The results have more than a curious interest. The well-known 'Who's Who in America' contains the names of about 10,000 men. Some of these are grotesquely out of place and many eminent men are missing from the list. But if we select 1,000 or more, we have a body of men representative surely of the top hundredth if not of the top five hundredth of men of their age. Their attitude toward marriage will give an idea of the attitude of men who have shown superiority over at least 99 per cent, of their fellow men.

The facts cannot be stated with absolute precision since a large percentage of them do not make any report at all concerning their conjugal condition. In an investigation of a number of these cases it was found that three fourths were married. Applying this fact to the whole group we obtain the following figures:

Of 286 eminent men, between 60 and 70 years old, 88 per cent, are married.

Of 347 eminent men, between 50 and 60 years old, 88 per cent, are married.
Of 342 eminent men, between 40 and 50 years old, 88 per cent, are married.
Of 243 eminent men, between 30 and 40 years old, 85 per cent, are married.

Comparing these percentages with similar ones for the whole male population, we have

 
Eminent men. Whole population.
60-70 yrs. 88 93
50-60 yrs. 88 92
40-50 yrs. 88 89
30-40 yrs. 85 79 (about 85 for ages exactly corresponding to those of eminent men)