Essay Example on Thomas Malthus was an English economist









Thomas Malthus was an English economist well known for his theory on population growth He published an essay on the principle of population in 1798 and later published subsequent editions throughout his travels in Europe Malthus was the first economist to propose a systematic theory of population In an essay on the principle of population Malthus argued that population growth would outrun the rate of food production unless measures were taken to control the population growth According to his theory human populations grew exponentially while food production grew at an arithmetic rate linearly therefore there was an unequal power between production and reproduction He went on to predict that resources would eventually run out and humans would not survive so he urged to control population growth Malthus believed that it did not matter how much production increases if it can not keep up with unrestrained reproduction Essentially Malthus applied the law of supply and demand to food production and population growth When the supply of food increases food becomes cheaper and population increases 

When population increases demand for food increases food becomes more expensive and more children people die as a result To combat population growth he created preventive and positive checks A preventive check was what he called moral restraint men should refrain from pursuing the dictate of nature in an early attachment to one woman He suggested that men should marry later in life and have kids only when they are sure they can support a family Other methods included celibacy and contraception however Malthus was against the usage of birth control after marriage A positive check included causes that shortens one's lifespan such as disease famine and poverty After the publication of the first edition of his essay Malthus was heavily criticized for his pessimistic views of the world In response he went to Europe to gather data to support his argument publishing his results in a second edition of his essay Some of his many criticisms include 1 Failed to foresee opening of new land When considering food production Malthus thought of land as a fixed factor and did not take into account the possibility of other areas opening up and its land being used for farming The opening up of Australia the U S and Argentina allowed for extensive farming leading to an abundance of cheap food Food could also be imported from these regions 2 Applied a fixed Economic Law to a period of time

Because of the advancement of science and agriculture food supply has increased faster than Malthus predicted in arithmetic progression Technological changes also increased the rate of food production with some bringing revolutionary changes to farming techniques An increase in food supply enabled living standards to rise with population growth 3 Population Related to total wealth According to the optimum theory of population if a country is wealthy and even if it does not produce enough food for its population it can feed its people by importing food in exchange for other products or money For example Great Britain focuses on accumulation of wealth so they import most of their food from Holland Denmark etc 4 Parts of theory proven wrong Malthus's theory has actually been proven wrong multiple times as there have been declines in birth rate adequacy of food supply and an increase in agricultural and industrial production Also in many western countries the rate of population growth has been declining 5 Changed social attitudes In ore advanced countries parents and more educated people began to voluntarily limit the size of their families in order to have a better standard of living Improvements in birth control methods and the general acceptance of them have also contributed to a declining population rate Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels also strongly opposed Malthus's theory on population In Mary s theory on population population growth should be interpreted within the context of the capitalistic economic system 

As a capitalist replaces more of his workers with machinery more workers are let go and poor parents cannot properly raise their children As a result poverty and hunger increases among the unemployed Mary and Engels both saw Malthus's theory as another instance of the way in which bourgeois economists reify social relations and therefore the poverty of the working class was not due to an eternal law of nature but to a misconceived organization of society Mary also believed that starvation had nothing to do with population and was the result of unequal distribution of wealth and the accumulation of wealth by capitalists However he did agree with Malthus in that food production could not increase rapidly and like Malthus failing to take into account technological advancements in the future Although Malthus received much criticism his essay was very influential at the time and affected public policies classical and neoclassical economists and evolutionary biologists such as Charles Darwin When Darwin read Malthus s work he was inspired the natural struggle for survival caught his eye and he applied this theory to evolution Darwin began to think that some people in Malthus's theory were better fit or equipped to survive therefore those who were not would die out Before reading An Essay on the principle of population Darwin believed populations would grow until they aligned with existing resources and stabilized Malthus's work gave Darwin inspiration to redefine natural selection by providing a reason for the competition between members of the same species

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