Letter | Published:

A Measure of the Intensity of Hereditary Transmission

Nature volume 60, page 29 | Download Citation



THE possessors of certain hereditary characters are unquestionably sub-prolific; that is, they eventually contribute less than their average share to the stock of the future population. It may be that they die before the age of marriage, or that they are sexually unattractive or unattracted, or that if married they are comparatively infertile, or that if married and fertile the children are too weakly to live and become parents. It is very probable, though I have no trustworthy facts to confirm the belief, that persons affected with hereditary insanity are sub-prolific because their families, if they have any, are apt to contain members who are afflicted in various ways that render them less likely than others to live and to marry. But I do not propose to go into the details of this or of any other malady, but merely mention it as an illustration of what is meant, when I assume that the possessors of some particular characteristic, not necessarily a morbid one, and which may be called A, are sub-prolific on the average.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

About this article

Publication history





  1. Search for FRANCIS GALTON in:


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.