Imagens das páginas

lation. There will in fact under any given circumstances always be an optimum number; if the population fails to reach that number or if it exceeds it, the return per head will not be so large as it would be if attained by that number.” 21

The fact that such a point exists, mathematically speaking, may be granted, but it is not so certain that population tends to conform to the law of optimum numbers. At times population tends to run ahead, at times to fall behind. As a law of conformity, the proposition is unconvincing. As a mathematical concept, it is capable of being proved.

(4) The population in the United States may in the future be expected to consist less and less of foreign-born elements. The admission of immigrants has been drastically restricted, and the alien element in the population narrowed for the future. This policy may be expected to affect the scarcity of common labor and to increase the chances of labor for an increased wage share of national income.

(5) The proportion of the total population living on farms is lessening. Less than 30 per cent of the gainfully employed are now engaged in agriculture. In 1922, 1,120,000 people left the farms on account of the agricultural depression then prevailing. In 1922, 7.3 per cent of all inhabitable farm houses were vacant. The relationship between farm population, total population, and farm production is shown by the accompanying diagram:



[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

For further

* Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture, 1923, p. 463. analysis, see above, pp. 325-27.

(6) The concentration of population in cities steadily increases. More than one-half of the population in the United States now live in

21 The Population Problem, p. 200. This law is taken from E. Cannan, Wealth,

towns and cities of more than 2,500 population. The development of urban civilization increases the complexity of economic organization immensely. Dependence upon trade and markets, multiplication of transportation costs, increased specialization of labor, increased expense of distributing commodities to consumers, change in political and economic ideals, greater demand for amusements and recreations, all result from the growth of the city and decline of the rural community. A new economic balance between farm and city is in process of development.

(7) The World War proved to be a drastic positive check upon population. Wilcox has estimated that the direct death toll of the war was at least 10,000,000 lives and the indirect toll through plague, disease, and famine at least 20,000,000 more. A total loss of 30,000,000 lives due to the war is evidence of the human cost of war.22 The cause of the war and of this enormous sacrifice was in large part written in the over-population of various European countries. As population grew, these countries seized colonial areas, encouraged emigration, demanded new markets and new sources of raw materials. Imperialism and militarism were largely based upon the desire of governments to provide room for their expanding populations. The mad race in competitive armament was necessitated in the interest of protecting these stakes of imperialistic diplomacy. Over-population required a complex economic organization at home and abroad, and brought leading nations into conflict. The economic causes of wars largely center in the over-population of competing countries.

(8) The quality of population is distinguishable from the quantity. Quality is dependent mainly upon sound heredity. The science of eugenics emphasizes the importance of eliminating the excessive breeding of children of defectives and incompetents. Since the World War, many authorities have advanced the theory that the so-called Nordic races are superior in quality to other races. It has been urged, therefore, that we endeavor to make America a purely Nordic nation. This doctrine has not yet been supported by adequate scientific evidence. So many nations have allowed their egotism to lead them into similar selfexaggeration that careful students may well remain skeptical of the extreme claims to Nordic superiority.

Conclusion.—The means of controlling wage factors and promoting labor welfare are worthy of most earnest consideration. By increasing the labor share of product, by increasing total product, by limiting immigration, by adapting the ratio between population and subsistence, a large measure of control may be realized. Instead of leaving matters to blind fate or to automatic laws, we may well devote our energies to creative control of our destinies as laborers and as human beings.

22 See Journal of the American Statistical Association, January, 1922.


Bonar, J., Malthus and His Work.
CANNAN, E., Wealth.
CARR-SAUNDERS, A, M., The Population Question.
Cox, HAROLD, The Problem of Population.
DUBLIN, L. I., AND OTHERS, Population Problems in the United States and

EAST, E. M., Mankind at the Crossroads.
FAIRCHILD, H. P., Immigration.
FETTER, F. A., Principles of Economics, Chapters XXXII, XXXV.
FRIDAY, DAVID, Profits, Wages and Prices.
HAMILTON, W. H., and May, STACY, The Control of Wages.
King, W. I., Employment, Hours and Earnings in Prosperity and Depression.

Wealth and Income of the People of the United States. KNIBBS, J. H., The Mathematical Theory of Population. MALTHUS, T., Essay on Population. PEARL, RAYMOND, The Biology of Death. Proceedings of the American Statistical Association, December, 1924. REUTER, E. B., Population Problems. SEAGER, H. R., Principles of Economics, Chapter XVIII. Taussig, F. W., International Labor Costs, Quarterly Journal of Economics,

Volume XXXIX, p. 111 ff.

Principles of Economics, Chapters LIII, LIV. VEBLEN, T., The Instinct of Workmanship. WRIGHT, HAROLD, Population.




The development of the corporation and of large scale enterprise has made impersonal many of the most important relations between employer and employee. Personal contact between the president of the corporation and the average employee is eliminated. The employee tends to become a cog in a wheel, a number on a pay roll, an abstract unit of labor, rather than a human being with sympathies, emotions, and impulses. Under these conditions, mutual understanding is likely to disappear, and mutual coöperation is difficult to create. The relations between management and men tend to become suspicious and unfriendly. The problems growing out of these relations ramify to all phases of industrial activity.

The Job.-Labor's opportunity to carry out its part in production constitutes the job. The opportunity to work and thereby to earn a

. living is indispensable to the laborer's life. In its present form the job is an opportunity which may be given to the laborer or taken away by powers utterly beyond his control. The laborer has no right to a job. There is no established legal responsibility on the part of anybody to guarantee the laborer a steady job. The employer may give or withhold work as he sees fit. The employer retains the right to hire and fire for reasons good and sufficient in his own eyes. The opportunity to carry out labor's function is therefore a precarious one, and is created or destroyed by powers of management above and beyond his influence or control.

To lose his job is likely to bring distress and fear to the worker and his family. Both he and his dependents face the demands of the landlord, want of food, and the keenest of social dreads and anxieties until a new job can be found. This may take weeks or months. In the meantime the state of mind and body of the worker tends toward demoralization. As stated in detail by Lescohier, unsteady employment “undermines his physique; deadens his mind; weakens his ambition; destroys his capacity for continuous, sustained endeavor; induces a liking for idleness and self-indulgence; saps self-respect and the sense of responsibility; impairs technical skill; weakens nerve and will power; creates a tendency to blame others for his failures; saps his courage; prevents thrift and hope of family advancement; destroys a workman's feeling that he is taking good care of his family; sends him to work worried and underfed; plunges him in debt.”

1 The Labor Market, p. 107.

[ocr errors]

The loss of a job may be the fault of the worker himself, or on the other hand, may arise from causes completely beyond his control. In the average industry, approximately one-half of the causes of a change of employment lie within the volition of the worker himself. Among such causes for the laborer's voluntarily leaving his job are fits of temper, mean and disagreeable foremen, unsatisfactory wages, excessive hours, no prospect of advancement, the wanderlust, bad housing accommodations, poor health, and attractive opportunities elsewhere. The other half of the changes of employment are due to the volition of the employer. Of this half, the larger proportion of changes are due to industrial depression, seasonal shut-downs, bankruptcy, new mechanical inventions. The smaller proportion are in the form of discharges due to inefficiency, unreliability, insubordination, agitation, union affiliation, etc. The causes for the worker's withdrawing from a job, or for his being dropped from a company pay roll are obviously in a very large measure psychological. Dissatisfaction, temperament, ambitions, and all the moods and impulses of both worker and employer enter into the unsteadiness of work. With surprising frequency, the shift of employment has no traceable connection with careful, deliberate, rational calculation but is due to outbursts of passion, or to the domination of fixed prejudices. In many cases the worker's quitting of the job is an act without foresight, or regard for distressing consequences to follow. There is a large group of workers whose mental equipment does not enable them to protect themselves from the rashness of blind quitting. As pointed out by Dr. H. M. Adler, “There are individuals in a community who for a variety of reasons are not able to regulate their conduct on the basis of experience.

The amount of labor turnover varies greatly from company to company, but in the aggregate attains alarming proportions. It has been estimated that on an average, in order to maintain one thousand constantly at work it is customary to employ one thousand new men during the year to replace one thousand old ones. In other words, the average rate of turnover is about 100 per cent. However, there are some plants in which the turnover runs as low as 10 to 20 per cent and others in which it ranges from 300 to 600 per cent. Taking industry as a whole, government investigations provide a basis for the estimate that to keep five million workers fully employed throughout the year 1914, there were about four million accessions and four and a half million separations, or a total of more than eight million workers changing jobs that year.

A true picture of employment, therefore, presents a stream of constant come and go, incessant hiring and firing. This extreme flux and change affects most severely about one-half the workers. The other half endeavors to stick to the job. For the latter employment is something steady and permanent. They stay with the same company for as large a portion of their lifetime as economic conditions will permit. The high rate of turnover occurs because of the excessive shifts among the

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »