Ratio of Children to Women, 1920: A Study in the Differential Rate of Natural Increase in the United States

By Warren S. Thompson | Go to book overview

APPENDIX
FERTILITY IN ENGLAND AND WALES: 1911

In Table A we have the fertility of completed marriages in England and Wales according to the time of marriage ( 1886 to 1851 and earlier), according to the age of wife at marriage (15 years and over), and according to the general social status of the family. Three facts stand out clearly in this table: First, as the social status of the class becomes better, the size of the family decreases. Thus for all ages and for all durations of marriage, women in the unskilled class (V) had borne 528 children per 100 couples, those in the skilled class (III) 489, and those in the upper and middle classes (I) 389 (standardized rates). Of course, the survival rate is higher in the classes of higher social status but not enough higher to make up for the deficiency in births, so that the lower classes contribute more than proportionally to the next generation. It should also be noted that miners' wives (VII) bear more children than the wives of textile workers (VI) and farm laborers (VIII). The latter, however, raise more of their children so that they have the largest surviving families of any of the groups compared here.

The second outstanding fact is that there has been a steady decline in the number of children born in all social classes since 1851 or earlier. Among miners the decline apparently set in a little later than among other groups. The decline in the number of births has been much greater than the decline in the number of survivors in all classes. This is probably due to a general improvement in the standard of living and in the sanitary and medical service available. One of the surest indications of improved living conditions is a lower death rate.

The third fact of importance is that the number of children born varies with the age of the wife at marriage. For example, the postponement of marriage by women from 20-24 to 25-29 means for the general population a decline of 192 children or 31 per cent (from 620 to 428) per 100 families, and it is much the same per cent in all classes.

Table B, showing the distribution of completed families by size, needs little comment. For the families where there are children, one and two child families are not at all common. Together they comprise only 5. 2 per cent of all completed families, being slightly more numerous than families with 14 or more children. Just less than one- half (47.1 per cent) of all the completed families having children had 7 children or fewer, while 38 per cent of all the families had 8 to 11 children.

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