The Fertility of the Unfit eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 107 pages of information about The Fertility of the Unfit.

Vice will cover criminal abortions, limitation of births from venereal disease, deaths from intemperance, etc., and artificial checks to conception.  Malthus included artificial checks of this kind under vice (7 ed. of Essay, p. 9.n.), though they have some claim to be considered under moral restraint.  But the question will be referred to in a later chapter.

Moral restraint will cover those checks to conception, voluntarily practised in order to escape the burden and responsibility of rearing children—­continence, delayed marriage, and intermittent restraint.

No other checks are directly operative.

Misgovernment and the unequal distribution of wealth and land affect population indirectly only, and can only act through one or other or all of the checks already mentioned.



Decline of birth-rates rapid and persistent.—­Food cost in New Zealand.—­Relation of birth-rate to prosperity before and after 1877.—­Neo-Malthusian propaganda.—­Marriage rates and fecundity of marriage.—­Statistics of Hearts of Oak Friendly Society.—­Deliberate desire of parents to limit family increase.

It is not the purpose of this work to follow any further the population problem so far as it relates to deaths and emigration.  Attention will be concentrated on births, and the influences which control their rates.

A rapid and continuous decline in the birth-rate of Northern and Western Europe, in contravention of all known biological and economic laws, has filled demographists with amazement.

A table attached here shows the decline very clearly.  According to Parkes ("Practical Hygiene,” p. 516), the usual food of the soldier may be expressed as follows:—­

Articles.  Daily quantity in
                             oz. av. 
Meat 12.0
Bread 24.0
Potatoes 16.0
Other vegetables 8.0
Milk 3.25
Sugar 1.33
Salt 0.25
Coffee 0.33
Tea 0.16
Total 65.32
Butter 2.4—­(Moleschott.)


The New Zealand Official Year Book gives the following as the average prices of food for the years mentioned:—­

1877      1887      1897      1901
s   d.    s   d.    s   d.    s   d. 
Bread            per lb.   0   21/4    0   13/4    0   11/2    0   11/2
Beef             per lb.   0   51/4    0   31/2    0   3     0   5
Mutton           per lb.   0   4     0   23/4    0   2     0   41/2
Sugar            per lb.   0   53/4    0   3     0   21/2    0   23/4
Tea              per lb.   3   0     2   3     2   0     1  10
Butter (fresh)   per lb.   1   3     1   0     0   8     0  11
Cheese (col’n’l) per lb.   0  10     0   53/4    0   6     0   6
Milk             per qt.   0   41/2    0   3     0   3     0   31/2

The official returns give the average daily wage for artisans for the years 1877, 1887, 1897, and 1901 as 11s., 10s. 6d., 9s. 9d., and 10s. 3d., respectively.

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The Fertility of the Unfit from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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