POPULATION AND IMMIGRATION § 1. Nature of the population problem. § 2. Complexity of race problems. § 3. Economic aspects of the negro problem. § 4. Favor able economic aspects of earlier immigration. § 5. Employers' gains from immigration. § 6. Pressure of immigration upon native wage workers. § 7. Abnormal labor conditions resulting from immigration. § 8. Popular theory of immigrant competition. § 9. Divergent views of effects on population. § 10. The displacement theory; its fundamen tal assumption. § 11. Magnitude of the inflow of immigrants. § 12. Earlier and recent effects of immigration upon wages. § 13. Laissez faire policy of immigration. § 14. Social-protective policy of immigra tion. § 15. Post-war restriction of immigration. § 16. Population and militarism. § 17. Problem of maximum military power.
§ 1. Nature of the population problem. No one of the problems of labor thus far discussed is of so great im portance in its ultimate bearings upon popular welfare as is the "problem of population." By this is meant the problem of determining and maintaining the best rela tion between the population and the area and resources of the land. What is to be deemed "best" in this case depends, of course, on the various human sympathies and points of view of those pronouncing judgment. Very generally, until the nineteenth century, the only view that found expression was that of a small ruling class which favored all increase in population as magnifying the political power of the rulers and as increasing the wealth of the landed aristocracy. This view still is unconsciously taken by the members of a small but influential class, and is echoed with out independent thought by many other persons. But more and more, in this and other labor problems, another more democratic standard of judgment has come to be taken, that of the abiding welfare of the masses of the people. This is the point of view that must be taken by the political econo mist in a free republic.
The problem of population presents two main aspects: one as to composition, and the other as to numbers of the people. Changes in either of these respects concern the welfare of the masses. Changes in the kinds of people, or in their relative numbers, may greatly affect the welfare of the people, in some cases touching special large classes, and in others affecting the whole mass of the people.
§ 2. Complexity of race prob lems. The questions of race com position that we shall here consider are those of the negro and of the immigrant.) Both of these ques tions are complex and go beyond the limits of mere economic considerations, touching the most vital political and social interests of the nation. Indeed, they involve the very soul and existence of peoples, for who can doubt that ultimately racial survival and success are mainly to be determined by physical and spiritual capacity? The negro in America is the gravest of our population prob lems. In large portions of our land it overshadows every other public question. Yet the negro is here because men of the seventeenth century ignored the complexity of the labor problem and thought only of its economic aspect. The land 1 Even more important than these is the relative decrease of the suc cessful strains of the population, briefly treated in Vol. I, cji. 33. This is the problem of eugenics, the choice and biologic breeding of capable men to be citizens of the nation, and, broadly understood, it includes both the negro and the immigrant problems.
owners wished cheaper labor, and, reckless of other conse quences, they imported slaves from Africa to get it. They gained for themselves and a few generations of their de scendants a measure of comparative ease, but at a frightful cost to our national life—a cost of which the Civil War now seems to have been merely a first instalment on account, rather than a final payment.
§ 3. Economic aspects of the negro problem. The negro as a wage-earner is found very little outside of the least skilled branches of a limited range of occupations. Of these the principal ones, as is a matter of common knowledge, are farm work, domestic service (including janitor service in stores and factories and work in hotels), and crude manual outdoor labor. Repeated attempts to operate factories with a labor force of negroes have proved unsuccessful. In some of the better-paying occupations in which large numbers of negroes were found in the North soon after the Civil War, such as barbering, waiting on table in the best hotels, and skilled manual work, they have been largely displaced by European immigrants. Negroes are a disturbing and unwel come influence in labor organizations, and even when nom inally eligible to membership are in fact rarely accepted. They very frequently are employed as strike-breakers, and this fosters race antagonism both immediately and perma nently.
The negro problem is, from our present outlook, insoluble. The most laudable of present efforts, that for industrial train ing, represented by Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes and the work of Booker T. Washington, leaves the dire fact of two races side by side and yet unassimilated socially, politi cally, and, in large measure, economically—a situation that involves the undemocratic principle of caste distinctions. Segregation in a separate state, or separate states, a thorough going plan that has been proposed, is practically impossible. The disappearance of all color and race prejudice in respect to marriage, accompanied by miscegenation, or the complete merging of the negro with the white population, as has oc curred in some countries, is the ideal of some radical negro leaders, but is so repellent to the thought of white Americans that it cannot be looked upon as a solution. Yet the fact of the continual admixture of white and negro strains, occurring first mainly in the lower social strata of the two groups and through illegitimate relations, cannot be ignored. As a con sequence of this there is occurring a slow infiltration of the negro strain into the white population, by the process known among the negroes as "going over to white," which will go far toward race admixture in a thousand years, a period brief in the history of nations.
Finally, there is the conceivable, but improbable, event of the decrease and extinction of the negroes in America. Their absolute number still continues to increase, but their relative number has declined since It seems probable that if European immigration were to be stopped a very large migration of negroes from the South to the North and the West would occur to take places hitherto filled by unskilled immigrant workers. In the year 1915, following the check to immigration as a result of the European war, a very marked movement of this kind set in, and continued until about 1920. If this occurred on a large scale it might result in actually reducing the negro population in some portions of the South; and as the "rate of natural increase" of the negroes in the North is a negative quantity, it might cause the total negro population of the country to begin absolutely decreasing. The census of 1920 showed the remarkable fact that the decen nial increase of the negro population had been but 6 per cent, as compared with more than 11 per cent in the preceding dec ade (the lowest up to that time).
§ 4. Favorable economic aspects of earlier immigration. By the "immigration problem" is meant primarily and mainly See Vol. I, p. 430, figure 58, showing the fall in the decennial rate of increase of negroes compared with whites; and see comment in ac companying note.
the complex of evils, economic, political, and social, caused by the present inflow of immigrants. Regarding this we are not confined to futile expressions of regret, as in the last ease. We can by legislation limit or stop their coming, if we will. The first question to answer is, whether their coming really is an evil or, on the whole, a blessing to the country.
The historic American attitude toward immigration has been highly favorable to it. The early settlers on these coasts were led by various motives, some political, some religious, but far the largest part economic—the motive of bettering their worldly condition. Land was plentiful, and all men of any capacity could easily become landowners. An inflow of la borers was favorable to the interests of all the influential elements of the population, especially to landowners and ac tive business men. Increase of numbers, favoring division of labor and the economies of production in manufacturing, and reducing the dangers from Indians and from foreign enemies, seemed an unmixed blessing. Many of the new comers soon became landowners and employers, and in turn favored a continuance of the movement. Thus was hastened the peopling of the wilderness. The interest of these classes harmonized to a certain point with the public interest ; but likewise it was in some respects in conflict with the abiding welfare of the whole nation. It led to the fateful introduc tion of slavery from Africa, and it encouraged much inferior immigration from Europe, the heritage of which survives in defective and vicious strains of humanity, some of them notori ous, such as those designated as the Jukes, the Kallikak family, and the tribe of Ishmael.
§ 5. Employers' gains from immigration. The immigra tion from Europe has furnished an ever-changing group of workers, moderating the rate of wages that employers other wise would have had to pay. The continual influx of cheap labor aided in imparting values to all industrial opportuni ties. A large part of these gains have been in trade, in manu factures, and in real estate as the cities have taken and re tained an ever-growing share of the immigrants. Successive waves of immigration, composed of different races, have ever been ready to fill the ranks of the unskilled workers at wages • somewhat lower than the current American rate.
The lower enterprisers' costs that resulted from immigra tion surely did not accrue to the advantage of the employers alone. Bearing in mind the fact that the employing-enter priser is a middleman,* we may see that the lower costs must, in most cases, be passed on to the consumers in the form of lower prices of products. And often the consumer, as the employer of domestic service at lower rates than otherwise would be possible, gets this advantage directly. This in creases the number of those whose self-interest, at least when narrowly judged, leads them to favor the policy of unre stricted immigration. This sentiment in favor of immigration is still potent, though perhaps less general than it once was. The continuous inflow of immigrants has in many industries come to be looked upon as an indispensable part of the labor supply. Conditions of trade, methods of manufacturing, prices, profits, and the capital value of the enterprises have become adjusted to the fact. Hence results one of those il lusions cherished by men whenever they identify their own profits with the public welfare. Without immigration, it is said, "the supply of labor would not be equal to the de mand." It would not at the wages prevailing. But supply and demand have reference to a certain price. At a higher wage the amount of labor offered and the amount demanded would come to an equality. This would temporarily curtail profits, and other prices would, after readjustment, be in a different ratio to wages.
§ 6. Pressure of immigration upon native wage workers. There must always have been cases where the labor incomes of workers were somewhat depressed by the incoming of im migrants. Indeed, that must to some extent always be so when the natives continue to work alongside of the immigrant 8 See ch. 21, § 16, and references in note.
at just the same job. But before the Civil War living con ditions were simple, wages comparatively high and (more im portant) pretty steadily rising, and the wage-earning class not yet a large share of the population. Moreover, this con flict of interest was minimized and often quite avoided by the native changing to another occupation. In the old days there was always the outlet of free land on the frontier, now closed. Always there has been a better opportunity for natives to move into higher positions of foremanship or as employers of immigrant labor.
As the wage-earners have become relatively a more numer ous, and permanent class in the United States, many of them have felt more keenly the pressure of competition from immi grant labor. Moreover, the immigration since 1890 has been increasingly from southern and southeastern Europe, from countries with much lower standards of living, and has been of enormous proportions. Here are some significant figures as to immigration since 1820: In interpretating these 'figures it should be observed, how ever, that in the last two decades many immigrants from southern and eastern Europe have been returning to their native lands. The net addition to population due to im migration in this period, therefore, has been considerably less than the figures in the table indicate. Before this century the return flow of migration was very small.
§ 7. Abnormal labor conditions resulting from immigra tion. The labor supply coming from countries of denser population and with low standards of living creates, in some occupations, an abnormally low level of wages and priced. Children cannot be born in American homes and raised on the American standard of living cheaply enough to maintain at such low wages a continuous supply of laborers. Many industries and branches of industry in America are thus para sitical. A condition essentially pathological has come to be looked upon as normal. The commercial ideal imposes itself upon the minds of men in other circles.
Statistics show that the prevailing wages for unskilled man ual workers in America rose much less in the half century after the Civil War than did other wages.* Wages in the great lower strata of the unskilled and slightly skilled workers are much lower in America relative to those of more skilled and professional workers than they are in Europe. It can hardly be doubted that the most important, though not the sole, cause of this situation has been the unceasing inflow of immigrants See below, see. 12.
going into these low-paid occupations. The "general eco nomic situation" in America, but for immigration, would com pel higher wages to be paid to the masses of the workers. If immigration were suddenly stopped in a period of normal or of increasing business, wages in these occupations would at once rise, and that without the aid of organization, of strikes, or of arbitration. This would affect most those oc cupations which now present the most serious social prob lems, in mines, factories, and city sweatshops. In some small measure the war in the Balkan States, by recalling many men for service, had this influence in 1912; and the great war beginning in 1914, by stopping a large part of the usual im migration, gave a striking demonstration of this principle. In employing circles the rise of wages was sometimes referred to with an air of grievance as due to the "monopoly of labor," as if the economic situation here, enabling the wage-earners (millions of them immigrants) to get a higher competitive wage when immigration temporarily was diminished, consti tuted a monopoly.
fifty or a hundred years from now would be no lower as a re sult of continued immigration than they otherwise would be; or to the employer that wages would then be no higher. But to the social philosopher and to the statesman, interested in the abiding general welfare, the ultimate economic effects are of the greatest importance.
The question is: What will be the far-reaching, long-time effects of immigration upon the general economic situation, as that determines the welfare of the mass of the people? We confine ourselves here to the economic effects, leaving aside as far as possible the racial, moral, religious, political, and general social aspects of the subject.
We are met at the outset by two divergent opinions as to the permanent results of immigration upon the growth of population. The one opinion is that all immigrants coming to our shores are net additions, hastening by so much the growth in density of population ; the other is that immi gration has the effect of checking the natural increase of the native stock so much that it does not materially change the total population, or actually causes it to be less than it would have been had no immigration occurred.
§ 10. The displacement theory; its fundamental assump tion. The latter view, known as the displacement theory, was first advanced by a distinguished economist, Francis A. Walker, but his first statement of it referred only to the period between 1830 and 1860. The main argument in support of
this opinion was that in the three decades from 1830 to 1860, during which a large immigration occurred, the decennial rates of increase of the population were almost the same as in the three decades from 1800 to The conclusion drawn from these figures was that the immigrants were the cause (by the economic pressure they created) of the decline of the birth-rate occurring in the native stock. The validity 6 See Vol. I, p. 429, for figures of population and of decennial rates of increase; also f 0, above.
of this conclusion is dependent on the assumption that no other forces were at work to produce this result. Must we be lieve that, but for immigration, the native birth-rate would not have declined at all? This is incredible. The birth-rate of the native stock had already begun to decline before 1820, as is shown by many family records, and by the fall of the decen nial rate of increase from 35 and 36 in the decades ending 1800 and 1810, to 33.1 and 33.5 in the next two decades. This occurred despite the enormous western settlement then under way on the Louisiana Purchase. The decline of the birth rate began at that time to appear as a world-wide phenome non, accompanying improved transportation (roads, steam boats, steam railways), the rapid growth of cities, and the general industrial revolution. The general birth-rate has de clined of recent years in Australia and New Zealand, where there has been little immigration, more rapidly than it has in the United States.? § 11. Magnitude of the inflow of immigrants. The displacement theory still has but in view of the facts it seems necessary to modify it greatly. To the extent that the coming of immigrants caused a net addi tion to the population, it doubtless hastened the growth of cities and the development of industrialism, and thus helped to reduce the birth-rate in some classes. But this view admits the effect upon population which the dis placement theory denies. Probably in a good many cases the more rapid business advancement of the natives, because of the coming of the immigrants, led to the decline of birth-rate The effect of the growth of cities is discussed in the "American Journal of Sociology." Vol. 18, p. 342, in an article on "Walker's Theory of Immigrittion," by E. A. Goldenweiser.
8 One of the best recent statements of it is that of H. P. Fairchild, in "Immitration," pp. 215-225, citing various opinions, and accepting the view of Walker. But he says (p. 216) : "It must be admitted that this is not a proposition which can be demonstrated in an abso lutely mathematical way, which will leave no further ground for argument." that is a consequence of economic success° But a large part of this change would have inevitably occurred even if there had been no immigration after 1820. Between 1820 and 1910 the population increased 82,400,000, and the total number of immigrants was 27,400,000, or 33.7 per cent of the total increase. The birth-rate among immigrants in cities always has been very much higher than that of native Americans, in the same cities. This fact alone might well be taken as sufficient to offset whatever depressing effects the coming of the immigrants may have had upon the native birth-rate, leav ing the immigration nearly a net addition to population. It does not seem possible to believe that, if there had been no immigration, our native population, rapidly advancing in average wealth, wages, and general education, would have continued with an unchecked birth-rate, and would have filled all the places taken by immigrants. And no believer in the displacement theory has ever ventured to claim, as the argu ment requires, that if immigration were now stopped the birth-rate would again return to the old standard of 1820, or would cease to decrease somewhat. Especially of late, since the rate of increase of the native population has become much less, is the effect of continuing immigration apparent. In the decade of 1900-1910 the total population increased 16, 000,000, while nearly 9,000,000 immigrants arrived. Of the remaining increase, 3,000,000 consisted of children born of foreign parents. That leaves, at the most, 4,000,000 in crease attributable to the native stock, white and negro com bined.
§ 12. Earlier and recent effects of immigration upon wages. Let us now correlate the principle of decreasing re turns and the facts as to the exploitation of our natural re sources 10 with the growth of our population, on the assump tion that immigration has made more or less of a net contribu tion to our numbers. While the vast frontier was open to set See Vol. I, p. 420.
tlement the growth of population could not fail to be looked upon as a blessing, even though somewhat mixed with political evils, immorality, and pauperism. Beginning in colonial times, the policy of the "open door" to immigrants came thus to be deemed the traditional patriotic American policy. Yet there is grave reason to believe that the rate of growth in the nine teenth century was wastefully rapid and that a slower and sounder growth might have been better." However, this rapid growth was largely extensive, spreading over wider areas, and was consistent with a pretty steady rise of real wages in America until about the level continuing higher than that of Europe despite the contemporaneous rise of wages there. Much of this general rise is undoubtedly at tributable to the adoption of better tools, machinery, and in dustrial processes, the more so as inventions and new methods have rapidly become free goods." The beneficial improve ments long cooperated with the rapid exploitation of rich re sources to raise real wages, and then undoubtedly continued to offset for a time the unfavorable effects as the richer re sources began to show signs of exhaustion. About the begin ning of this century, however, the net trend upward seems to have been checked, and the "rising cost of living" (real cost) became a serious actuality for larger sections of the popu lation." Yet as long as wages are enough higher in America to pay the passage of the low-paid workers of the industrially back ward nations, they will continue to come. The ease and cheapness of migration in these days of steamships, the en couragement of immigration by the agencies and advertise ments of the steamship lines, and the increasing readiness 11 E. g., see above ch. 16, § 11, on the prodigal land policy.
12 See Vol. I, p. 436 ff.
"See Vol. I, ch. 36, on machinery and wages.
14 For analysis of the available statistics bearing on the subject, with conclusions that real wages are no longer rising, see H. P. Fairchild in "American Economic Review" (March, 1916), "The Standard of Liv ing—Up or Down 1" of the peasantry to migrate have become well-known through recent discussions. Unless immigration is limited, it must continue to depress the wages of American workingmen, through both its immediate and its ultimate effects.
§ 13. Laissez-faire policy of immigration. There are those who take a fatalistic view of the subject, and this results in a laissez-faire policy. They declare that the problem will solve itself as the level of American wages comes to be nearly the same as that of the countries of Europe from which our imagination is coming. True enough, if this can be called a "solution." There are many who cherish the commercial ideal according to which cheap labor is absolutely desirable and needful to produce cheaper products. This ideal has spread to wider circles. Here, for example, are the words of a man who combines wide knowledge of the facts of immigration with keen sympathy for the working-classes: 15 "The past industrial development of America points unerringly to Europe as the source whence our unskilled labor supply is to be drawn. . . . America is in the race for the markets of the world; its call for workers will not cease." Yet a little further on he must say : "All wage-earners in America agree that it is not as easy to make a living to-day as it was twenty years ago, and the dollar does not go so far now as it did then. The conflict for sub sistence on the part of the wage-earner is growing more stern as we increase in numbers and industrial life becomes more complicated, and the fact must be faced that the vast army of workers must live more economically if peace and well being are to prevail." § 14. Social-protective policy of immigration. A differ ent kind of solution is offered by those who favor the strict limitation, if not the complete prohibition, of immigration. The foregoing study indicates that the time has come, if it is not far past, when the traditional policy of fostering immi 15 Peter Roberts in "The New Immigration," 1912, preface, p. viii, and p. 47.
gration is opposed to the welfare of the masses of the peo ple. This belief can be based solely on grounds of numbers, the relation of population to resources, quite apart from a preference for particular races or the familiar arguments re garding social and political evils and lack of assimilation, however valid they may be. The limitation of immigration would at once improve working-class conditions where they are worst in and would check and probably reverse the tendency to diminishing returns already manifest in many directions. This opinion does not necessitate an ab solute prohibition of immigration ; it is consistent with the continuance of immigration of a strictly selected character, and in numbers so small that all European immigrants now here could be rapidly and completely assimilated, econom ically and racially. With a slow national increase of popula tion and with the continued progress of science and the arts, it should be possible for real wages to continue indefinitely rising in America. The selection of immigrants to be admit ted should be a part of a national policy of eugenics," which aims to improve the racial quality of the nation by checking the multiplication of the strains defective in respect to men tality, nervous organization, and physical health, and by en couraging the more capable elements of the population to con tribute in due proportion to the maintenance of a healthy, moral, and efficient population. In such a view, a eugenic opportunity is presented in the selection and admission of immigrants who are distinctly above (not merely equal to) the average of our general population.
assumed their full share of the military and other patriotic duties of the time; as did many natives of the Central Em pires. But in many cases were revealed our lack of na tional unity and consciousness as a result of recent immigra tion, the failure of the "melting-pot" to melt, and wide spread sedition and disloyalty among the aliens who had been welcomed to our shores. In the period of agitated feelings, of unsettled labor conditions, and of a threatening Bolshevism, the desirability of a "wide-open" policy of immigration came to be doubted in the very circles where immigration had been most strongly favored before. Large employers and the well-to-do classes recognized the threat to our institutions in the presence here of so many alien elements, un-American in thought and feeling, and em bittered against all established political and economic institu tions as a result of their experiences in their native lands. The first legislative fruit of this public opinion was the en actment by Congress of the temporary restriction law, which went into effect June 3, 1921. Of several restrictive laws that have passed both houses of Congress since Cleveland's administration, this was the first that was signed by the Presi dent. It limits (to the end of the fiscal year 1922) the immi gration from each foreign country to 3 per cent of the number in the United States by the census of 1910. Immigration had already begun to rise to the pre-war rate. In the fiscal year ending June 30, 1921, immigrants to the number of 805,228 were admitted, while 247,718 departed, making a net addition of 557,510. The total number that can be admitted under this law, if each country sent its full quota, would be 354,000. This law, if supplemented by other legislation be fore 1922, will have inaugurated a new era of immigration policy in the United States.
§ 16. Population and militarism. In view of the re crudescence of the spirit of armed national aggression apparent in the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, the military aspect of the population question deserves serious consideration. The growth of savage and barbarian tribes in numbers, so that their customary standards of living were threatened, frequently has led to the invasion and con quest of their neighbors." To-day nations on a higher plane of living are probably repeating history. The nation with an expanding population is tempted to seek an outlet for its numbers and for its products by entering upon a policy Fig. 5, Chapter 25. Immigration restriction law of 1921; restric tive effects upon various nationalities, shown graphically.
of commercial expansion, which in turn has to be supported by stronger military and naval establishments. It is led by primitive impulses that to itself seem to be a moral justifica tion, to possess the territory of its neighbors. Such a nation points to its increasing population and declares that it must have its "place in the sun"; it must find lands and food for its swarming numbers. Other nations with lower birth-rates and higher standards of living, which they seek to preserve is See Vol. I, p. 412, on war and the pressure of population.
by various measures excluding immigration, appear to be greedy, malevolent, and insulting. These are not the con ditions for rational thinking. The immediate occasion of war may be some matter of internal politics, such as growing discontent and democratic sentiment among the people, while the deeper cause is the pressure of population in a limited territory. Nations with slowly growing populations, and still possessed of ample territories to maintain their ac customed standards of life, naturally favor the status quo, and are pacifist or non-militarist. If they arm, it is for their own safety. In this view, militarism is seen to consist, not in hav ing drilled soldiers and stores of munitions, but in the na tional state of mind that would use these for aggression, not merely for defense. When, therefore, a powerful nation has reached a certain stage in the relation of its population to resources, limitation of population more truly than limitation of armaments is the real pacifism ; and increase of population, not increased military training or a larger navy, is the real militarism.
§ 17. Problem of maximum military power. It is a grave question, however, how far a nation with a relatively sparse population, high wages, and great wealth can safely limit population in the presence of a capable, ambitious, and efficient rival that covets such opportunities. On the one hand, a population may be so sparse that it has not sol diers enough to defend its territory against a numerous enemy ; on the other hand, it may be so dense, and conse quently average incomes be so low, that it cannot properly train, arm, and support its population of military age. The recent developments in the art of warfare call for great use of the mechanical industries, for great power to endure taxa tion, and for great financial resources, conditions found only where the average of national income is high. The point of maximum military power must be far short of the maximum possible population. It would seem that a nation of 100,000, 000 inhabitants favorably situated to resist aggression, well supplied with the natural materials for munitions, and well equipped to produce them, might safely limit its numbers so as to insure a high level of popular income. This safety would be greatly increased by permanent alliance with other peoples likewise limiting their numbers and, therefore, in terested in maintaining the peace of the world. In this way it would be possible for them all to maintain a standard of popular well-being even higher than is fully consistent with the maximum military power, even in the presence of pro lific and aggressive rival nations.
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