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The Decline in the Birth-Rate

Nature volume 101, page 227 (23 May 1918) | Download Citation



IN a judicial way Dr. Millard discusses, in the paper before us,1 the problem of the fall of the birth-rate in its relation to social welfare. He does not share the orthodox view that the decline of the birth-rate is in itself a deplorable fact, or that deliberate birth-control is necessarily to be regarded with disapprobation. On the contrary, he advances substantial arguments in support, of the following conclusions. The fall in the birthrate is a general phenomenon among civilised nations. It is due, not to diminished natural fertility, but to deliberate birth-control. It is not in itself an evidence of national decadence; it may be an expression of advancing civilisation—of a more conscious control of life. Birth-control is the civilised substitute for those natural checks to the rapid growth of population—scarcity, disease, and war—which have always operated in the past. Rapidly growing populations in countries with circumscribed territories are apt to give rise to political unrest and to serve as provocatives to war. International competition in birth-rates is correlated with a competition in armaments, and both are undesirable.

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