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The Adult Population

deaths, pyramid and labor

THE ADULT POPULATION The first time you look at the chart of the popu lation of this country by ages you will be surprised. What will puzzle you is that there are more chil dren two years old than one, and that there are about as many alive at twenty, at twenty-five, and even at thirty as there were at one and two and five. We know that a lot of the babies did not live to be a year old, that there were many deaths before five, and some—though a smaller number—at every year afterward.

What an extraordinary pyramid this is—or rather a pyramid on top of a prism—which does not begin to show any effect from deaths until nearly middle age! The explanation is, of course, simple —immigration.

If you take the pyramid of native-born only, it tapers off normally enough, fewer at every age than in the group below; in our whole population, how ever, in the years of childhood, adolescence, and early maturity the deaths are compensated, mathe matically speaking, by the arrival of immigrants. The net result is that we have actually at twenty, and very nearly at thirty, as large a population as at one, and even after forty it does not taper off as rapidly as it would if we did not have ready made boys and girls, ready-made men and women, coming in all the time.

Because of immigration, then, we have, especially in the northern cities, an abnormally constituted population. This helps to solve some problems and makes easier in certain respects the task of social construction. It makes our civilization richer by the content of the varied racial and national con tributions. It makes society industrially more productive because of the excess at the working ages. The ebb and flow of steerage passage to the Mediterranean help to furnish an elastic labor supply as well as to solve the problem of "cheap labor," speaking from the point of view of those who consider cheap labor desirable. But immigration adds also to our problems of crime, of exploitation, and of maladjustment. Recent immigrants are more easily sweated, crowded, underpaid, de frauded. They make necessary much work by the government simply because of their misunderstand ings and mistakes, and because of our mistakes and misunderstandings of them.