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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78

Sterility, or Inability to Nourish Offspring

Sterility, or Inability to Nourish Offspring.

Considering next the results of the higher education upon motherhood, the case appears even worse yet for educated women. Birth rates are the indication of national growth or decay; only the constant immigration of foreigners prevents us from occupying the position in which France finds herself at this time, that of facing the problem of a steady decadence of birth rates. In the New England family, probably the best type of American civilisation, where, for two centuries, the homes were almost perfect models, the birth rate has steadily declined for half a century at a very rapid rate, until now it is actually lower than that of any European nation, France itself not excepted. Comparing the forty years ending with 1890. native marriages average 2.3 children each, while those of the foreign-born average 7.4 each. Among the causes for this condition of affairs may be stated physical and mental inability to rear children; but a stronger reason appears to be in the unwillingness to sacrifice ease, freedom, and enjoyment for the responsibilities of parenthood. . . . It is evident that if our trace depended upon the rate of replenishment of the educated classes, it would be doomed to speedy extinction. Are we ready to accept the idea that further human evolution requires a decline in parenthood ? . . . Any college that depended on the children of its graduates for fresh students would be doomed to extinction. Leaders are continually recruited from the class below. Time was when marriage and children were felt to be religious duties. That day seems to be disappearing. ... An examination of the question thus far inclines one to the view that if higher education became universal, posterity would be gradually eliminated, and the schools and teachers would progressively exterminate the race.