Effects of epidemics on registers The table, from which this is copied, contains the marriages, births, and deaths, for every particular year during the whole period; but to bring it into a smaller compass, I have retained only the general average drawn from the shorter periods of five and four years, except where the numbers for the individual years presented any fact worthy of particular observation. The year 1711, immediately succeeding the great plague, is not included by Sussmilch in any general average; but he has given the particular numbers, and if they be accurate they show the very sudden and prodigious effect of a great mortality on the number of marriages. Sussmilch calculates that above one third of the people was destroyed by the plague; and yet, notwithstanding this great diminution of the population, it will appear by a reference to the table, that the number of marriages in the year 1711 was very nearly double the average of the six years preceding the plague." To produce this ef 1 The number of people before the plague, according to Sussmilch's calculation, (vol. i. ch. ix. sect. 173.) was 570,000 from which if we subtract 247,733, the number dying in the plague, the remainder 322,267 will be the population after the plague; which, divided by the of births, deaths, and marriages. the fect we must suppose that almost all who were at age of puberty were induced, from the demand for labor, and the number of vacant employments, immediately to marry. This immense number of marriages in the year could not possibly be accompanied by a great proportional number of births, because we cannot suppose that the new marriages could each yield more than one birth in the year, and the rest must come from the marriages which had continued unbroken through the plague. We cannot therefore be surprised that the proportion of births to marriages in this year should be only 2.7 to 1, or 27 to 10. But though the proportion of births to marriages could not be great, yet on account of the extraordinary number of marriages, the absolute number of births must be great; and as the number of deaths would naturally be small, the proportion of births to deaths is prodigious, being 320 to 100; an excess of number of marriages and the number of births for the year 1711, makes the marriages about one twenty-sixth part of the population, and the births about one tenth part. Such extraordinary proportions could only occur in any country, in an individual year. If they were to continue, they would double the population in less than ten years. Effects of epidemics on registers births as great, perhaps, as has ever been known in America. In the next year, 1712, the number of marriages must of course diminish exceedingly, because, nearly all who were at the age of puberty having married the year before, the marriages of this year would be supplied principally by those who had arrived at this age, subsequent to the plague. Still however, as all who were marriageable had not probably married the year before, the number of marriages in the year 1712 is great in proportion to the population; and though not much more than half of the number which took place during the preceding year, is greater than the average number in the last period before the plague. The proportion of births to marriages in 1712, though greater than in the preceding year on account of the smaller comparative number of marriages, is, with reference to other countries, not great, being, as 3.6 to 1, or 36 to 10. But the proportion of births to deaths, though less than in the preceding year, when so very large a proportion of the people married, is, with reference to other countries, still unusually great, being as 220 to 100; an excess of births which, calcu lated on a mortality of 1 in 36, would double the of births, deaths, and marriages. population of a country (according to Table I. page 30) in 21 years. From this period the number of annual mar. riages begins to be regulated by the diminished population, and of course to sink considerably below the average number of marriages before the plague, depending principally on the number of persons rising annually to a marriageable state. In the year 1720, about nine or ten years after the plague, the number of annual marriages, either from accident, or the beginning operation of the preventive check, is the smallest; and it is at this time that the proportion of births to marriages rises very high. In the period from 1717 to 1721 the proportion, as appears by the Table, is 49 to 10; and in the particular years 1719 and 1720, it is 50 to 10 and 55 to 10. Sussmilch draws the attention of his readers to the fruitfulness of marriages in Prussia after the plague, and mentions the proportion of 50 annual births to 10 annual marriages as a proof of it. There are the best reasons, from the general average, for supposing that the marriages in Prussia at this time were very fruitful; but certainly the proportion of this individual year, or even period, is not a sufficient proof of it, being evidently caused by a smaller number of marriages taking Effects of epidemics on registers place in the year, and not by a greater number of births.1 In the two years immediately succeeding the plague, when the excess of births above the deaths was so astonishing, the births bore a small proportion to the marriages, and according to the usual mode of calculating, it would have followed that each marriage yielded only 2.7 or 3.6 children. In the last period of the table, from 1752 to 1756, the births are to the marriages as 5 to 1, and in the individual year 1756, as 6.1 to 1; and yet during this period, the births are to the deaths, only as 148 to 100, which could not have been the case, if the high proportion of births to marriages had indicated a much greater number of births than usual, instead of a smaller number of marriages. The variations in the proportion of births to deaths, in the different periods of the 64 years included in the table, deserve particular attention. If we were to take an average of the four years immediately succeeding the plague, the births would be to the deaths in the proportion of above 22 to 10, which supposing the mortality to be 1 in 1 Sussmilch, Gottliche Ordnung, vol. i. c. v. s. lxxxvi. p. 175. |