Birth strike threat seen (2-16-41)

Reading Eagle (February 16, 1941)

Sociologist warns way of life hinges on larger families
Madison, Wis., Feb. 15 (UP) –
America is face-to-face with a “birth strike” which promises to be a s serious threat to survival of democracy, Prof. Howard Becker, University of Wisconsin sociologist, believes.

There is no question about it. There is a “birth strike,” and you only have to look at the dwindling enrollment of nursery, kindergarten and elementary school classes to see it.

While the birth rate is slumping, there is a marked increase in the number of pet shops and veterinary hospitals. Why, 20 years ago, the teaching of veterinarians was a dying business. Today it’s booming.

The average family in 1940, Becker said, consisted of 3.4 persons, including father and mother, while in 1930 the average family was 4.1 persons.

Gives ratio

It takes 5.4 persons per family to ensure continuity of population in this country, and 4.8 to ensure survival of a family. Democracy will survive only if we have enough “democrats” for this generation as well as the next/. And I’m not talking about cannon fodder either.

The sociologist said America is riding the downgrade in its population cycle more rapidly than statistician Louis I. Dublin predicted. Dublin said America would strike a stationary population by 1960, a decline by 1965, according to Becker.

Becker said:

I say we’ll hit a stationary population by 1950, and it’ll start dropping by 1955.

Two-point program

A two-fold program to boost the nation’s birth rate is urged by Becker, teacher in the university’s popular friendship and marriage course.

One, we must have subsidies to make it financially possible for “reasonable intelligent” and self-maintaining parents to have more than one-child and two-child families. Secondly, along with this should go the establishment of contraceptive clinics. No child should be born or reared in a “demonstrably inadequate family.”

He said a “very conservative” estimate by the Surgeon General of the Army shows that the number of abortions performed annually in this country are virtually equal to the number of live births. There are at least 750,000 abortions in America every year, while live births totaled approximately 900,000, he said.