cities. -Overseas Immigrants: New laws were created to restrict immigration, supported by labor leaders, progressive politicians, and nativist groups. These groups feared that immigrants from Asia, and Southern and Eastern Europe were unhealthy, uneducated, and culturally inferior. They were blamed for threatening American values, overtaxing social services, not assimilating quickly, and creating crime, poverty, and pollution in the cities. Past supporters of immigration, industrialists were mechanizing in a way that decreased the need for new labor. Literacy Act of 1917 placed initial restrictions on the least educated immigrants, often those coming from Southern and Eastern Europe. It was based largely on social scientists findings from literacy tests given to soldiers that indicated soldiers from Southern and Eastern Europe usually scored lower than native born American or immigrants from Western Europe where education systems were stronger and English was widely spoken. The low scores were misinterpreted as a sign of low intellect rather that poor schooling or a lack of familiarity with English. Emergency Quota Act of 1921 set quotas which would discourage immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe and Asia. A limit of 3% of the foreign born population in the 1910 Census which amounted to 350,000 immigrants per year. Since the 1910 Census had a smaller portion of Italian born nationals, they received a smaller quota. Chinese were completely excluded. National Origins Act of 1924 further reduced immigration, especially from Southern and Eastern Europe while eliminating it from Asia. The quota was then based on the 1890 census and the quota percentage lowered to 2%, allowing only 150,000 immigrants per year. Since the majority of Southern and Eastern immigrants arrived after 1890, this severely lowered their slots of the 150,000 and gave preference to immigrants from Northern and Western Europe. National Origins Act of 1929 changed the percentage of immigrants from any single country to the percentage of the total population in Europe. As an example Italian immigration dropped from an annual number of 160,000 to 6,000 by 1929. Most Western and Northern European countries never used their total allotment. - Birth and Mortality Rates: Birth Rates declined in the 1920s as contraceptives became more common and women put off marriages or children to go to school or pursue a career. The average family size was 7 people in 1900 but only 5 people by 1930. Increasingly liberal divorce laws increased divorces from 1 out of 8 marriages in 1920 to 2 out of 7 by 1929. Divorced women had fewer children during the 1920s, an increase in the time fertile women were not having children. More women attended college and so they put off marriage. By 1929 more women went to college than men for the first time. More women were working outside of the home and that decreased the tendency to become pregnant as they chose work over childbirth. In 1920 8 million women worked outside the home, by 1929 11 million worked outside the home. Most jobs were in “women’s professions”-teaching, nurses, domestic servants, salesclerks.
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