In 1921, women were becoming more educated, getting married at later ages (or not at all), and having fewer children. Some considered this a crisis, though all three of those trends would become far more pronounced by 2021.
Getting together a variety of statistics which deal with the biological results of the higher education of woman, her growing economic independence and the wide range of activities from which she can now select her career, Professor Holmes [University of California zoology professor Samuel J. Holmes] scans all these closely and finds as the result that about 50 per cent. [sic] of college women remain unmarried, that the date of marriage among educated women and among those who are economically independent tends to grow later and later and their families smaller and smaller.
Holmes concluded, “There can be no doubt that the race is losing a vast wealth of material for motherhood of the best and most efficient type.”
If Holmes was merely concerned back then, he would have been horrified now. Let’s take each of those three trends in turns:
- About 50 percent of college women remain unmarried. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of people who are married has perpetually declined for the past six decades, to record low levels around now. The biggest drops haven’t been among the educated, though, but among the less-educated.
- The date of marriage among educated women and among those who are economically independent tends to grow later and later… According to the Census Bureau, the average age of first marriage has gone up significantly. In 1920, it was about 24.6 for men and 21.2 for women. By 2020, it had risen to 30.5 for men and 28.1 for women — both record highs.
- …and their families smaller and smaller. The average number of people per household has been declining for literally 160 years. In 1920, it was 4.34. In 2020, it was 2.53.
Is the New Woman a Traitor to the Race?
Published: Sunday, August 28, 1921
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