In Carrying out the fifteenth decennial census, to be taken as of April 1, 1930, the Federal government will spend approximately $40,000,000. The results of this mammoth undertaking that are awaited with greatest interest are those showing the size, make-up, residence, and earning power of the country's population. The forthcoming canvass will shed new light also upon the physical well-being of American wage-workers through its surveys of the distribution of consumers' goods and of unemployment.
The population question, important everywhere, has a part today in many of the public problems of the United States. It exists in acute form in the Orient and in some of the countries of Europe whose populations have virtually reached a saturation point. In this country the problem is more subtle and complicated, but no less real—as is shown by the frequency with which various of its aspects have commanded public attention during recent years.
A series of immigration laws, from 1921 to 1929, focussed attention upon the racial make-up of the American people. The World War and the many changes in industrial organization growing out of it directed attention to the country's labor supply, including the employment of women and children, the standard of living, the rate of wages, and the effects of health activities upon future generations. The rapid and haphazard exploitation of natural resources, such as oil and timber, gave rise to a new interest in programs of conservation to guard against their exhaustion. Finally, the provision of farm relief, as embodied in the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929, implies a curious reversal of the Malthusian doctrine that “population presses upon the food supply.” The prevailing agricultural depression indicates that today, in the United States at least, food supply presses upon population.