Immigration’s effects on host societies

In a recent blog discussion somewhere recently someone expressed skepticism about the effects of immigration on certain types of ethnic groups. While some, especially rural communities were less vulnerable to change, some were more vulnerable.

From a 1913 book called The Races of Europe, containing a series of lectures by the Lowell Institute:

“A summary view of the class of social phenomena seemingly characteristic of the distinct races in France, if we extend our field of vision to cover all Europe, suggests an explanation for the curious coincidences and parallelisms
[…] In every population we may distinguish two modes of increase or evolution, which vary according to economic opportunity for advancement. One community grows from its own loins; children born in it remain there, grow up to maturity, and transmit their mental and physical peculiarities unaltered to the next generation. Such a group of population develops from within, mentally as well as physically, by inheritance. Such is the type of the average rural community. Its evolution is surely “monotypic,” to borrow a biological term from Romanes.

It is conservative in all respects, holding to the past with an unalterable tenacity. Compare with that a community which grows almost entirely by immigration. Stress of competition is severe. There is no time for rearing children; nor is it deemed desirable, for every child is a handicap upon further social advancement. Marriage even, unless it be deferred until late in life, is an expensive luxury.

Population grows, nevertheless; but how? By the steady influx of outsiders. Such is the type known to us in the modern great city. Between these two extremes are all gradations between the progressive and the conservative type of population. To the former are peculiar all those social ills which, as Giddings has rightly urged, are the price paid for such progress.

Suicide is a correlative of education; frequency of divorce is an inevitable concomitant of equality of rights between the sexes, and the decline of the religious sanction of patria potestas. Marriage, no longer a sacrament, becomes merely a legal contract, terminable at the will of the parties concerned. The individual will is of necessity subordinated to that of the body politic. Crime changes in character, becoming a matter more of business or necessity, and less of impulse.

A decreasing birth rate almost always attends social advancement. To prevent such a fall in the birth rate, and at the same time to overcome the devastations of disease, is held by many to be demographic ideal to which all states should aspire. Not postponed marriages, nor childless families, not a high proportion of celibates; not, on the other hand, reckless and improvident unions with a terrific infant mortality as a penalty therefor [stet] but a self-restrained and steady birth rate in which a high percentage survives the perils of infancy.”

  • The Races of Europe, pp 528-529

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