Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/41

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
37
THE JEWS: RACE AND ENVIRONMENT

907 survived the first year, while among the christians in that city only 861 survived; in Russia the figures stand, Jews 849, christians 726; and in Cracow, Jews 845 and christians 829. This has a great bearing on the expectation of life of the Jews. According to the calculations presented in Census Bulletin No. 19, 1890, the expectation of life of the Jews is much more favorable than that of the christian population of the United States. Assuming 100,000 Jewish individuals to have been born on the same day (among which there would probably be 50,684 males and 49,316 females), 45,680 males and 44,995 females will survive the first year; 41,731 males and 42,326 females will survive the fifth year, etc. At the end of about 71 years one half of them will be dead. Taking the data for Massachusetts for 1878-82, of 100,000 American infants born (among which there would probably be 51,253 males and 48,747 females) only 41,986 males and 41,310 females would survive the first year; 36,727 males and 36,361 females would survive the fifth year; and half of them would be dead at the end of about 47 years.

While these figures are open to criticism because, as has been pointed out by Hoffman, the method adopted for the calculation of the life-tables is not stated in detail, still it may be stated without any hesitation that the longevity of the Jews in the United States and Europe is superior to that of the non-Jewish population. There is also no doubt that this superiority is mainly due to the lower mortality during infancy and childhood. It is doubtful whether there are any differences in mortality rates during adolescence and middle life between Jews and christians. Among persons of advanced age, over fifty, the rates are higher among the Jews, simply because a larger number reach that age.

The lower mortality of Jewish infants is not due to any special inherent vitality, but finds its explanation in certain social causes: Jewesses in eastern Europe almost invariably nurse their infants at the breast, and it is rare to find among them an infant brought up on artificial feeding. The mortality of breast-fed children is much below that of hand-fed. Jewish mothers only rarely go to work after marriage, and can therefore bestow all possible care on their infants, which can not be said to be invariably true among the poorer classes of population in eastern Europe and America. In western Europe the Jews are economically on a higher plane than the general population, and when infant mortality is discussed it must be recalled that it is much smaller among the well-to-do than among the poor. The Jews should be compared with the wealthier classes of western Europe and not with the general population. To these social factors there must also be added the fact that the birth rates of the Jews are lower than those among the christians. A high mortality can not be expected when fewer children are born. In fact, in Russia, where the birth rate of