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Godwin, William. Of Population. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme and Brown, Paternoster Row, 1820.




The reader however would have some reason to be dissatisfied with what has hithero been delivered on the subject of European population, if I confine my observations to Sweden only.

I will here therefore subjoin a few remarks tending to shew that there is nothing which has been collected concerning the other countries of Europe, that is any respect weakens, but is rather calculated to confirm, the conclusions I have formed.

These remarks shall be particularly directed to two points: first, the proportion which the women capable of child-bearing exhibit to the gross population; and secondly, the proportion between marriages and births, as it is found in the different countries of Europe.

The best information that can be had on the first of these points, viz; the proportionate number of females capable of child-bearing to the whole of any mass of population, exclusively of the Swedish accounts, is to be found in the collections that have been inserted by Dr.


Price, in his Observations on Reversionary Payments. These I will take in the order in which they occur. At the same time it is proper to observe, that his conclusions are of little avail, in balance with those I have already exhibited; first, because they are all cases built upon a very small number of persons compared with the enumerations of Sweden; and secondly, inasmuch as those numbers are arbitrarily and artificially taken, and rest upon no better evidence that that of the bills of mortality for the respective districts and countries.

Dr. Price's object having been very different from that which we are here considering, I find myself under the necessity of subjecting his statements to a certain process, before they can be applied to the purpose of this investigation. The enquiry of that writer was respecting the value of lives, and the different probabilities that exist as to the age at which human creatures shall die. He therefore supposed a thousand, or ten thousand, or a hundred thousand persons to be born at the same time, and then calculated, according to certain observations, by what degrees the ranks of this brigade or legion of human creatures would become thinned. My business is not with an imaginary number of persons, all born on the same day, but with real human societies, as we find, or may conceive, them constituted. Real human societies, particularly in old established countries, are made


Up of persons of all ages, from the cradle to the extremity of decrepitude. To find out therefore from Dr. Prince's Tables how many woman, between the ages of twenty and forty-five years, would be living in any community at any assigned period, I was reduced to the necessity of striking an average between the number of females that, according to Dr. Price, would reach the age of twenty, and the number that would reach the age of forty-five, and of thus settling the proportion that would be living in any community at a given time. For example:

In Table the Eighth, shewing the Probabilities of Life at Norwich, in Dr. Price's worka, it is calculated that out of 1185 births, there were 467 living at the age of twenty, and 311 at the age of forty-five, which gives an average of 389. Of these if half were females, we shall have females proper for childbearing 195, about one sixth part of the whole.

Table the Ninth is Mr. Simpson's Calculation of the Probability of the Duration of Life in London, founded on the London Bills of Mortality for ten years, from 1728 to 1727 inclusive b. In this Table it appears that of one thousand births, 360 were living at twenty years of age, and 192 at forty-five, giving an average of 276. Of these, one half, or 139, may be taken to be


females proper for child bearing being one seventh of the whole.

It is easy in the same manner to ascertain the number of females proper for child-bearing in every Table of Population, in which the ages are specified. I shall therefore content myself with exhibiting the general results, which, being thus brought together, may readily be compared one with another.


Showing the Proportion of Females proper for Child-bearing to be found in Different Masses of Population

Place Population Females between 20 and 40 Proportion nearly Reference to Price’s Observations, vol.II
Norwich 1185 195 1 to 6 Table VIII, p.296
London 1728 to 1737 1000 138 1 to 7 1/4 Table IX, p.297.
London 1759 to 1768 1518 192 1 to 8 Table XV, p.304.
London 1771 to 1780 23,452 4005 1 to 7 3/10 Table XVI, p. 305.
Northampton 11,650 2095 1 to 5.5 Table XVII, p.311
Warrington 2700 459 1 to 5 9/10 Table XLI, p.384
Chester 4066 1000 1 to 4 Table XLII, p.392.
Holy Cross 966 230 1 to 4 1/3 Table LI, p.446
Electoral Mark of Brandenburg 1000 215 1 to 4 3/5 Table LI, p.446
Holland 1400 344 1 to 4 Table LIII, p.456.
France 10,000 2449 1 to 4 Ibid.


To impeach the Swedish authorities. In France and Holland, where we have least reason to depend on the accuracy of the accounts, the women proper for child-bearing are stated as one fourth of the community. In London, on the contrary, they are only as one to seven, and one to eight. The average of the whole however is something under one to five.

The next question is as to the number of births to a marriage, whether any accounts that have been collected in other parts of Europe might lead to a suspicion that the Swedish Tables have put them down at too low an amount. One of the most considerable authorities on this subject is John Peter Sussmilch, a German author, who is copiously quoted by Dr. Price in his Observations on Reversionary Payments, and by Mr. Malthus

in the Essay on Population. The title of his work, first published in 1765 in two volumes octavo, and since enlarged into three, is Die Gottliche Ordnung, &c.; or, The Order of Divine Providence, as Displayed in the Births, Deaths, and Increase of the Human Race.-I may observe by the way, that the object of Sussmilch in writing was precisely the reverse of that of Mr. Malthus his view being, first to shew the possibility of an increase in the population of the earth, and then to recommend the adoption of such means as he could suggest for realizing that increase. This author appears to have exerted great in


4 3/10 to one nearly. Now I should lay it down as a general maxim, that where chastity and a habitual practice of the domestic duties most prevail, there we should expect to see the most numerous families and the largest crop of children in general: an I am yet to learn that France possesses the superiority in this respect over Russia, Denmark, Germany, and Great Britain. I therefore look with a particular degree of distrust upon the French registers.

Meanwhile, be this as it will, the result of all these statements appears clearly to be, that throughout Europe, taking one country with another, the average falls short of four children to a marriage.

From the particulars stated in this chapter I am entitled to conclude, that the accounts collected in all other European countries do not contradict, but on the contrary strongly tend to confirm, the conclusions suggested by the Swedish Tables. On them therefore we have every reason, which the nature of the case admits, to rely.

a Observations on Reversionary Payments, vol. II p. 296

b P. 207.

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