741. Harrod to Joan Robinson , 20 January 1938 [a]

[Replies to 740 , answered by 744 ]

Christ Church, Oxford #

20 January 1938

My dear Joan

I am not convinced that the difference is emotional; rather I believe you have not thought out the implications of the situation.

You say that if remedial measures can be effective, there is no point in the campaign for them. Really I cant follow this. No campaign, no remedial measures.

I assure you that the future of humanity generally bulks much more largely in my mind than patriotism. But I agree that it is a bad look out if decent peoples die out leaving the world not indeed to Nazis and Roman Catholics, but to something much worse than this, Nazis intensified to the nth degree. e.g. all women, not Jews only, will be kept indoors and branded with a large H if they go outside.

It is no good leaving the matter for 50 years and then taking measures. By that time our population will in all probability halved and the number of women below the age of 45 will be negligible. If the family does not rise for 50 years the more or less complete extinction of British (including Scandinavian etc.) people is inevitable.

You are wrong in supposing that France is ahead of us. She was ahead of us in 1880, but now she has dropped far behind. I dont know if that is because of the Catholics; the evidence points in that direction in Canada. Sweden, I think, runs roughly neck-a-neck. [1]

I dont call not legalizing abortion persecution. It is not anyhow retrograde. Put it this way. Regard it as a luxury which we cannot afford till we have solved the big problem: the sooner we can do that, the sooner shall we be in a position to enter upon new luxuries of this sort. Of course if you are right than legalizing abortion would not be bad for reproduction, the point is not relevant to our argument.



  1. 1. In "Population and the Future", Harrod gave figures for the net reproduction rate in several countries for 1933, from which it resulted that in France (0.82) "contrary to the general impression reproduction [is] better maintained than in England or Germany" (0.734 and 0.7, respectively). The figure for Sweden (0.73) was actually very similar to the record for England and Wales (Harrod 1938:7 , p. 192). Slightly different figures for the same year for France and Sweden (0.88 and 0.70, respectively) are given in "Population Trends and Problems" (Harrod 1939:1 , p. 12) and in "Modern Population Trends" (Harrod 1939:18 , pp. 6-7).
    1. a. ALS, four pages on two leaves, in JVR vii/191/24/27.

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