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The Problems of Maturity

women, cent, twenty-one and home

THE PROBLEMS OF MATURITY The two big universal normal interests of both men and women in the early years of maturity are work and home. They are in a sense rivals. We have been regaled by the conceit of a wife's suit for separation based on the alienation of affections by a defendant called the day's work. There are other important interests, of course, for all: participa tion in political life, for example, or church activi ties, or going to lectures. But for most of us such activities do not compare in immediacy of interest with our activities as workers and as heads of fami lies. These other interests are absorbed in the two great interests, or incidental and subordinate to them, even when they are fully recognized and appreciated.

Work is popular in America. The necessity which pushes us is not external, but internal and welcome. We hardly have a "leisure class" at all of rich or aristocratic idlers, in spite of the best efforts of "society reporters " ; and at the other end nearly every one can earn a living and is willing enough to do so. Ninety-seven per cent of the men between twenty-one and forty-five years of age were reported by the census in 1910 as "engaged in gainful occupations," and over one-fourth of the women.

As we have already seen, a great many of them had not waited for the age of twenty-one before going to work. Some of them began at ten and even earlier. Between sixteen and twenty-one, four-fifths of the young men and two-fifths of the girls were employed—eighty per cent and forty per cent, respectively; a larger proportion, that is, of the girls under twenty-one than of the women over that age. Young women in the early twenties

have a way of transferring their big normal per manent interest from work to home; young men have also, but their best way of showing the in terest in their home is to take more rather than less interest in their work.

The proportion of idle men does not vary ap preciably in different parts of the country, the lar gest number being five per hundred in Vermont, North and South Dakota, and the District of Co lumbia, and the fewest (2.2 to 2.5 per cent) being found in Mississippi and Alabama, South Caro lina, Wyoming, and Rhode Island. The most in dustrious population of women—although it may be better to use strictly the language of the census, since housewives, who are not included among those engaged in gainful occupations, are well known to be the most industrious of women—the largest proportion of women gainfully employed are in South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, and other southern states. This is explained by the large number of Negro women, nearly all of whom are reported as employed. In Massachusetts thirty nine per cent of the women from twenty-one to forty-five were gainfully employed, and by contrast only about fifteen per cent in West Virginia, Okla homa, Idaho, and New Mexico.