JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer
Reiling, Assistant Editor.
The Chicago Inter Ocean points out the well-known
fact that, with the imperfections of the vital statistics in this country,
we can form very little idea as to the increase or decrease of the birth rate.
But abroad, where special records have been kept most accurately for years,
the case is somewhat different, and the question of race suicide can there
be put to the test of fact. It quotes from the recent volume of H. G. Wells,
"Mankind in the Making," which applies this test to England and Wales, and
finds that, while the birth rate has declined between 1850 and 1896 from 33.8
to 28 per 1,000, the death rate has also declined from 23.3 to 17.7. Subtracting
the death rates from the birth rates leaves a normal increase of the population
and shows only a fall of 0.2 per 1,000. But he still further shows that the
ratio of illegitimate births has declined in England and Wales from 2.2 in
the period from 1846 to 1850 to 1.2 in the period from 1896 to 1900, and that
but for this decrease an actual rise of 0.8 per 1,000 would have been shown
by the figures. This would indicate that England and Wales are not only becoming
decadent by the decreasing birth rate, but are becoming more moral, and in
this counteract the deficiency of 0.2 per 1,000. The fact is that the question
of race suicide is really a local one. It may be a serious fact in certain
sections, but applied to large territories or whole countries there are many
factors which have to be considered, and which will necessarily call for much
reserve in any conclusions that may be deduced.
RACE SUICIDE.. JAMA. 2004;291(23):2887. doi:10.1001/jama.291.23.2887-a