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

III
RATIOS OF CHILDREN TO WOMEN IN CITIES OF 100,000 INHABITANTS AND OVER

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN STATES AND LARGE CITIES

As shown in Table 18 the ratio of children to women for the different nativity and marital groups is considerably lower in the large cities than in the States (Table 11). The difference is specially striking for the native population. In the United States as a whole the ratio of children to native white women 20 to 44 is 538, while in these cities the ratio for the same group is 341, or 57.8 per cent higher in the States than in these cities. For married women in the same nativity groups the ratios are 725 and 512, respectively, or 41.6 per cent higher in the United States than in these big cities. For the foreign-born white women 20 to 44 in the United States the ratio is 779, and in these cities 679, or 14.7 per cent higher in the country as a whole than in the cities. For foreign-born married women the ratios are 911 and 819, respectively, or 11.2 per cent higher in the whole United States than in the big cities. Thus it is evident that the foreign-born white women in the United States as a whole differ from the foreign born in the large cities in respect to the ratio of children by only one-fourth to one-third as much as the native white women of the same groups.

The most obvious explanation of this small difference between the United States and the big cities in ratio of children to foreign-born white women lies in the fact that these women live largely in the cities, especially in the big cities. Consequently the ratio for the United States is heavily weighted by the city-dwelling foreign-born women. Of more significance than this obvious explanation, the chief fact of social importance is that foreign-born whites, no matter where they may settle in this country, come largely from rural communities or ghetto districts where the standards of life are favorable to rearing large families. In only a small proportion of these women are these standards modified early enough in life to have much influence upon the number of children born. Hence immigrant women tend to bear children up to the limit of their capacity no matter where they live in this country. Modifications in this tendency will be pointed out later but as regards recent immigrants the statement describes the conditions quite accurately.

Another indication of the differences between the whole United States and these large cities is in the index of the ratio of children of

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