Dynamics of Population: Social and Biological Significance of Changing Birth Rates in the United States

Dynamics of Population: Social and Biological Significance of Changing Birth Rates in the United States

Dynamics of Population: Social and Biological Significance of Changing Birth Rates in the United States

Dynamics of Population: Social and Biological Significance of Changing Birth Rates in the United States

Excerpt

Population growth in the United States, as in other industrial nations, is gradually slowing down. The swift expansion of European peoples during the last few centuries, as new economic processes and scientific medicine broke the force of primitive "positive checks" on population growth, is now being counteracted by "preventive checks," causing lower birth rates. On this all qualified students are agreed, although they differ as to the exact date at which gross increase may be expected to cease, absolutely, and as to whether or not this event is likely to be followed by a period of considerable population decrease.

Any suggestion that population growth in this country is coming to a halt may at first seem surprising in the face of an increase of some seventeen million people between 1920 and 1930, the largest total increase ever recorded for any decade, or in view of the fact that the crude birth rate is still some 50 per cent higher than the crude death rate. Yet one significant indication of a change in population trend is immediately apparent on examination of the latest census statistics. In 1930, for the first time in our history, fewer children were reported as under 5 years of age than at the time of the previous decennial census. Again, in 1930, the number of children aged 0-4 years, inclusive, was apparently less than the number of children aged 5-9 years, who represent the survivors of children aged 0-4 years in 1925. The latter comparison is subject to some ambiguity because children under 5 years of age are always less completely enumerated than older children or adults. But this consideration does not affect the comparison between the number of children under 5 years of age enumerated in 1920 and in 1930. The decrease in the number of young children in the United States shows that population increase in this country is falling off. Birth registration statistics tell the same story. After making adjustments for the lack of data from some states and for incompleteness of registration, Thompson and Whelpton have estimated that there were about 2,800,000 births in the United States in 1915. Fluctuations due to wartime conditions appear in a sharp drop in 1919 and a peak in 1921; but we find that the estimated number of births for 1925 is practically identical with that for 1915, in spite of the increase in total population during the interval; and the corresponding estimate for the year 1932 is slightly below 2,400,000 births (Thompson andWhelpton, 1933a, p. 266). An official release by the . . .

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