The last chapter examined Titmuss's political activities in the 1930s and early 1940s. Demanding as these undoubtedly were, Titmuss also found time for other forms of social and political engagement. Among his early research interests were population, and population health. He was convinced, as were many others at this time, that Britain's population was in decline, and that this promised problems for the future. Nonetheless, as Pat Thane puts it, Titmuss was ‘the most persistent, prolific, and one of the most immoderate demographic pessimists’ of the 1930s and beyond. We shall encounter this pessimism in this, and later, chapters. Titmuss was, further, concerned about population health, arguing that proper analysis of the rates of morbidity and mortality revealed significant class and regional disparities in health experience and outcomes. Such concerns led to membership of the Eugenics Society, his first major publication, and conclusions with serious implications, at least in his view, for Britain's preparedness for what was, by the late 1930s, inevitable war.
The Eugenics Society
The Eugenics Society (originally the Eugenics Education Society) was founded in 1907. It was a small but influential body campaigning for greater attention to be paid to issues of heredity and population quality. Among its members in the 1930s and 1940s were William Beveridge, and his successor as LSE director from 1937, the social scientist Alexander Carr-Saunders. Titmuss was introduced to the society in 1937 by the LSE demographer and refugee from Nazi Germany Robert René Kuczynski, remaining a member until shortly before his death. Kuczynski, who had published alarming predictions about population decline in Western Europe, had favourably noted Titmuss’s statistical skills. Titmuss gained further kudos with the Society when, a year later, he published Poverty and Population, which impressed, in particular, reform-minded eugenicists such as Carr-Saunders, Society General Secretary C.P. Blacker, and Lord Horder, the King's physician. The Society, it has been argued, appealed primarily to certain elements of the middle class. This can be construed to include both members of the professional middle class – doctors such as Blacker – and those, like Titmuss, from the ‘new’ middle class. Titmuss became an active Society member, and, in addition to its usefulness as a platform for his ideas, it gave him the opportunity, which he was not slow to take up, to gain important and influential contacts.