747. Harrod to Joan Robinson , 22 January 1938 [a]

[Replies to 744 , answered by 752 ]

Christ Church, Oxford #

22 January 1938

My dear Joan

I think it is possible by reasonable methods, not involving persecution, to raise the reproductive rate to a sufficient level now, e.g. from an average family of one and a fraction to two and a fraction. But it will no longer be possible to do so if we wait until a big fall in number has already occurred. It will then be a question of raising the average family to 6 or 10 or something of that sort owing to the fact that there will then be such a small proportion of people young enough to do the job. (Even if my propaganda were promptly successful, a considerable decline is almost certain: so you need not worry about that).

I want rational & humane methods now, e.g., liberal endowment of motherhood, which I judge might well be successful, in order to avoid intolerant and persecuting methods later, which may, however drastic, be too late.

But because I want only humane methods now, it does not follow that we can dispense with a great deal of ballyhoo and campaigning. It is a far way from the present attitude prevailing to the successful achievement of family allowances on a sufficient scale, e.g. £250 a year per child to dons' wives and so on pro rata through the social scale. We need a great deal more panic than there is at present to get these things through.

What is important is that this should be taken up by people like yourself and not left to the jingoes. Family endowments are surely quite in line with your general social outlook. Will you, please, say, then, that it is very important that we should have them--so that the whole movement may be in the hands of people like you and not those of the opposite kidney--instead of saying foolish things about encouraging the decline of numbers!



  1. a. ALS, four pages (page 3 being numbered) on two leaves, in JVR vii/191/28-31.

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