Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
PAUPERISM AND CRIME

A. Introductory

THE preceding review of comparative statistics and descriptive history of labor conditions in the past and present has disclosed no evidence in support of the view that the economic interests of the wage-earner have suffered in consequence of immigration. But it is claimed that the evil effects of immigration show themselves in an alarming increase of pauperism and crime. The statistics of dependency and delinquency, however, give no occasion for alarm. According to an investigation made by the Bureau of Immigration, the total number of inmates of penal institutions, insane asylums, and almshouses in 1908 was 610,477,1 which included native and naturalized citizens and aliens. The enumeration of the same classes by the Bureau of the Census in 1904 gave their number as 634,877.2 A comparison of these figures clearly shows that the large immigration of the five-year period 1903-1908 was accompanied by an actual decrease of pauperism and crime.

Whether or not the number of paupers in charitable institutions can "serve as a general index of prevailing distress," 3 is beside the question: the contention is that pauperism is

____________________
1
Report of the Commissioner-General of Immigration, 1908, p. 96.
2
Benevolent Institutions, p. 12. Paupers in Almshouses, p. 6. Insane and Feeble - minded in Hospitals and Institutions, pp. 6, 107. Prisoners and Juvenile Delinquents, pp. 14, 228.
3
Paupers in Almhouses, p. 8.

-353-

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