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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 86.djvu/337

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For it does not skip a generation, and affects ordinarily half of the children of any affected parent. The vitality of Greenwich, Connecticut, like Suffolk County, Long Island, was formerly measurably affected by the presence in many of the old stock of that town of this racial characteristic.

Hemophilia, likewise, is, or was, a striking cause of death in certain localities, like a town of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. It occurs in males chiefly, rarely in females, except in the case of the marriage of two persons who belong to the same race; and it ordinarily alternates in its appearance in the generations. It is an ordinarily sex-limited character. Its high frequency is due to the fact that persons with this trait settled in Sullivan County and have left descendants there.

It might appear from what I have said above that heredity has to do only with diseases or unfortunate mental conditions, but for every liability to disease there is resistance, and for every mental defect or weakness there is mental strength; and heredity has just as much to do with the reappearance of these strong characters in the offspring. I have laid most stress upon diseases, simply because we think so much in terms of them.

Now, in this brief address, I have alluded to instances merely where the death rate depends on the presence in the community of a disproportion of persons belonging to races that show immunity or susceptibility to particular diseases. I think it can not be doubted that most causes of death have, at least, an hereditary factor, and so we may draw the conclusion that the morbidity and the mortality of any community or commonwealth is to a large extent determined by the racial elements present there of general or specific resistance or liability to morbific agencies.

Finally, statistics tend to cover over causes. Indeed the statistical method abandons as hopeless the attempt to analyze causes and deals only with results. But what we are interested in is, after all, causes; and so far as possible the causes should be isolated and studied separately and, in this paper, I have laid stress on the importance of the racial element as a cause of variations in national vitality.




THE most obvious effect of the European war in the field of finance is the rise in the rate of return upon capital. This is the natural result of the great destruction of wealth by the contending armies, which will have to be financed from savings which would otherwise be applied in meeting the usual annual demand for the extension and improvement of railway and industrial plants. It is evident, from the reports