760. Joan Robinson to Harrod , 3 March [1938] [a]



[Replies to 755 ]

3, Trumpington St., Cambridge

3 March [1938] [b]

My dear Roy

Many thanks for the proofs. [1] This time I won't try to tease you, but will say I have much sympathy with your general view. But I prophesy differently. Just as birth control came as the answer to the decline in death rates (the "natural" method was to have 17 children & <leave> 4) so the pendulum, which has now gone so far will begin to swing back--you indeed yourself embody an early symptom of the swing. Your "persecution" theory seems to me a somewhat arbitrarily constructed bogy & I think you spoil a good case by taking up this melodramatic line. Surely the best way is to advocate positive measures "social security" of all kinds, free nursery school for every child, improved maternity services, family endowment 1 --all things which are good in themselves & can be floated off on the population scare with great effect. Public works policy is another ticket that can come in for a share, & above all redistribution of income. Press for these things & give up this line of talk--birth control is worse than ten wars--which is exceedingly dangerous, & is helping to arouse the very evil passions you most fear.



Anyway you can't complain of me with all my daughters.

  1. 1. Harrod, "Population and the Future" ( 1938:7 ).

    2. Harrod, "Population and the Future" ( 1938:7 ), p. 208. More explicit statements along this line can be found for instance in "The Population Problem" (Harrod 1937:1 , press item 12 , [jump to page] ) and in "The Problem of the British Birth Rate" (Harrod 1937:10 , part II, p. 24), where Harrod admits that his proposed scheme of family endowments graded in proportion to the income of the recipient is anti-democratic.

    1. a. ALS, two pages on one leaf, with envelope addressed to Christ Church, in KHLM 217. Reproduced by kind permission of the Provost and Scholars, King's College, Cambridge.

      b. Year read from the postmark.

  1. 1. I don't hold with your pool at each level of incomes. [2] We must not admit the present distribution of income as a basis for legislation but try to correct it. [Robinson's note in the margin]

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