THIS book, which comes with a commendatory foreword by Beatrice Webb, is the work of writers well versed in the comparatively new but vigorous science of demography. As its title clearly intimates, however, its aim is not academic but practical. Demography has made rapid progress since the War of 1914-18. Its new and exciting discoveries, say the writers, though of vast importance to the future of man, are practically unknown to the general public. What the general public does know is that the practice of birth control, by means of devices for preventing conception, has spread from the well-to-do classes, among whom it arose in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, to the wage-earners. Long periods of unemployment and under-employment have been chiefly instrumental in causing the wage-earners to follow the example of their 'betters'. The authors give facts enough to show that we are now “between two biological worlds: one, the Age of Expanding Numbers, is dead ; the other, the Age of Contracting Numbers, is just commencing”. We are entering upon an unknown and a perilous period of our history. If, they affirm, the working people of Great Britain had during the past forty years returned the same birthrate as the well-to-do, we should not have had sufficient man-power to wage the War—and money would not have saved us. Should it be objected that there is an element of guesswork in this statement, there is at any rate none in the next, which relates to the number of children in the school-group 5 to 14. In 1913 the number was upwards of seven millions, in 1938 only six millions. Assuming that the same conditions prevail, Dr. Enid Charles estimates the number as about four millions in 1950, and three millions in 1960. The authors refute in the strongest possible terms the suggestion that the falling birthrate is due to the selfishness of parents, but their condemnation falls very heavily upon an economic system in which children seem to be simply not wanted. They recite an impressive array of facts to prove their point.
A Study of the Declining Birth-rate in Acquisitive Societies. By Richard and Kathleen Titmuss. Pp. 128. (London: Martin Secker and Warburg, Ltd., 1942.) 3s. 6d. net.
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Parents Revolt. Nature 150, 646–647 (1942). https://doi.org/10.1038/150646a0