A book in the ecology of child development, The Degeneracy Crisis and Victorian Youth studies stress in the lives of children in the Victorian age (1837 - 1901). The term "degeneracy" is pursued in the context of biosocial problems, especially those involving the young.
The book begins by presenting an overview of the nineteenth century, noting the changes in population, urbanization, the reform movement, and the rise of Darwinism. It next examines the social and health contexts in which human development took place, considering genetics, nutrition, health, mortality, and climate. Jordan then addresses empirically the nature of growth in Victorian children and young adults, presenting height and health data and using them as the dependent measure for descriptive and multivariate analysis of the Victorian economy. The concept of degeneracy, the evolution of social policy, and the efforts of specific reformers are discussed with attention to the role of government policy toward the end of the period.
Thomas E. Jordan is Curators' Professor of Child Development at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He is the author of Victorian Childhood: Themes and Variations also published by SUNY Press.
"Jordan reminds us that history, policy, and economics are great shaping forces in terms of setting ceilings on what children can be. There is much here that is important to scholars in child growth and development. But most important is that we are reminded of the plight of poor children today as well as yesterday." — Margaret Yonemura, State University of New York, Binghamton