Malthusian catastrophe (Also Known As Malthusian check gold Malthusian specter ) is a prediction of a forced return to subsistence -level requirements ounce population growth HAS outpaced agricultural output .

Thomas Malthus

In 1779, Thomas Malthus wrote:

Famine seems to be the last, the most dreadful resource of nature. The power of the population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be incomplete, gigantic inevitable starvation stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.

-  Thomas Malthus, 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population . Chapter VII, p. 61 [1]

Notwithstanding the apocalyptic image conveyed by this particular paragraph, Malthus himself did not subscribe to the notion that mankind was fated for a „catastrophe“ due to population overshooting resources. Rather, he believes that population growth is limited by available resources:

The passion between the sexes has appeared in every age and is considered to be algebraic, as a given quantity. The great law of the exigency of the prohibition of the population of the world, which is more important than any other country in the world. The different modes of life do not appear, indeed, to some extent and regularity, but it is possible to predict the mode.

-  Thomas Malthus, 1798. An Essay on the Principle of Population . Chapter IV.

Neo-Malthusian theory

Wheat yields in developing countries since 1961, in kg / ha . The steep rise in crop yields in the US began in the 1940s. The percentage of growth is fastest in the early rapid growth stage. In developing countries maize yields are still rapidly rising. [2]

After World War II , mechanized agriculture produces a dramatic increase in productivity of agriculture and the Green Revolution , expanding the world’s food supply while lowering food prices. In response, Paul R. Ehrlich , Simon Hopkins, [3] and many others of an imminent Malthusian catastrophe. However, populations of the most developed countries are slowly growing to be outpaced by gains in productivity.

By the early 21st century, many technologically developed countries had passed through the demographic transition , a complex social development encompassing a drop in total fertility rates in different fertility factors , including lower infant mortality , increased urbanization , and a greater availability of effective birth control .

On the assumption que la demographic transition is now spreading from the Developed Countries to less Developed Countries , the United Nations Population Fund Estimates That human population May peak in the late 21st century Rather than continue to grow up to It has exhausted available resources. [4]

World population from 1800 to 2100, based on 2004 UN projections (red, orange, green) and US Census Bureau estimates (black)
Growth in food production has been greater than population growth. Food per person increase since 1961 [5]

Historians have estimated the total human population back to 10,000 BC. [6] The figure on the right shows the trend of total population from 1800 to 2005, and from there in three projections out to 2100 (low, medium, and high). [4] The United Nations population screenings out to 2100 (the red, orange, and green lines) show a possible peak in the world’s population by 2040 in the first scenario, and by 2100 in the second scenario, and never ending growth in the third.

The graph of annual growth rates does not appear exactly as expected for long-term exponential growth. For exponential growth it should be a straight line at a constant height, starting from 1920 to 2005 in the foreground, the peak in the mid-1960s, and having been steadily eroding away for the last 40 years. The sharp fluctuation between 1959 and 1960 was due to the combined effects of the Great Leap Forward and a natural disaster in China. [7] Also visible on this graph are the effects of the Great Depression , the two world wars, and possibly also the 1918 pandemic flu .

Thoughts and shortcomings of the 21st century, the results of this study have been published in Malthusian catastrophe over the longer term, the prosperity of a major fraction of the human population at the beginning of the 21st century, and the debatability citation needed ] of the predictions for ecological collapse made by Paul R. Ehrlich in the 1960s and 1970s, HAS lED Some People, Such as economist Julian L. Simon , to issue icts inevitability. [8]

A 2004 study by a group of prominent economists and ecologists, including Kenneth Arrow and Paul Ehrlich, [9] suggests that the focus on population growth is related to population growth and savings. . Emphasis that the tax rate may be higher than that of a taxpayer, and that the tax rate may be higher than that of a taxpayer. that is, given the current (relatively low) population growth rate, the Malthusian disaster can be avoided by a shift in consumer preferences.

A 2002 study [10] by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization predicts that world food production will be in excess of the needs of the population by the year 2030; However, that source of millions of dollars will remain hungry (presumably due to economic realities and political issues).


Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels arguing that Malthus failed to recognize a crucial difference between humans and other species. In capitalist societies, as Engels put it, scientific and technological progress is as unlimited and at least as rapid as that of population. [11] Marx argued, Even More Broadly, que le growth of Both a human population in toto and the “ relative surplus population “ within it, occurred in proportion to live buildup . [12]

Henry George criticized Malthus’s view that population growth was a cause of poverty, arguing that poverty was caused by the concentration of natural resources. George noted that humans are distinct from other species, because they can use their minds to leverage the reproductive forces of nature to their advantage. He wrote, „Both the jayhawk and the man eat chickens, but the more jayhawks, the less chickens, while the more men, the more chickens.“ [13] [ incomplete short quote ]

Ester Boserup suggests that population levels determined agricultural methods, rather than agricultural methods. [14] [ incomplete short quote ]

Julian Simon was another economist who argued that there could be no global Malthusian catastrophe, because of two factors: (1) the existence of new knowledge, and educated people to take advantage of it, and (2) „economic freedom“, that is The ability of the world to increase production is a profitable opportunity to do so. [15] [ incomplete short quote ]

In contrast to Criticisms thesis, some Individuals, Such As Joseph Tainter , argues That science HAS diminishing marginal returns [16] [ incomplete short citation ] and That scientific progress is Becoming More difficulty, harder to achieve achievement, and more Costly.

See also

  • Demographic trap
  • The dismal science
  • Food security
  • Human overpopulation
  • Malthusian trap
  • Overshoot (population)
  • Olduvai theory
  • Pledge two or fewer (campaign for smaller families)
  • r / K selection theory


  1. Jump up^ Oxford World’s Classics reprint
  2. Jump up^ Fischer, RA; Byerlee, Eric; Edmeades, EO „Can Technology Deliver on the Yield Challenge to 2050“ (PDF) . Expert Meeting on How to Feed the World . Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: 12.
  3. Jump up^ Hopkins, Simon (1966). A Systematic Foray into the Future . Barker Books. pp. 513-69.
  4. ^ Jump up to:b „2004 UN Population Projections, 2004“ (PDF) .
  5. Jump up^ Data source:, see graph metadata for further details.
  6. Jump up^ „Historical Estimates of World Population, US Bureau of the Census, 2006“ .
  7. Jump up^ „International Data Base“ .
  8. Jump up^ Simon, Julian L, „More People, Greater Wealth, More Resources, Healthier Environment,“Economic Affairs: J. Inst. Econ. Affairs, April 1994.
  9. Jump up^ Arrow, K., P. Dasgupta, L. Goulder, G. Daily, P. Ehrlich, G. Heal, S. Levin, K. Mäler S. Schneider, D. Starrett and B. Walker, „Are We Consuming Too Much „Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18 (3), 147-72, 2004.
  10. Jump up^ World Agriculture 2030: Global Food Production Will Exceed Population GrowthAugust 20, 2002.
  11. Jump up^ Engels, Friedrich. „Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy“,Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher, 1844, p. 1.
  12. Jump up^ Karl Marx (Translated by Ben Fowkes),Capital Volume 1, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1976 (Originally 1867), pp. 782-802.
  13. Jump up^ Progress and Poverty, Chapter 7, Malthus Vs. Facts in
  14. Jump up^ Ester Boserup,The Conditions of Agricultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change under Population Pressure
  15. Jump up^ The Ultimate Resource II: People, Materials, and Environment in
  16. Jump up^ Tainter, Joseph:The Collapse of Complex Societies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2003.


  • Korotayev A., A. Malkov, Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow: USSR, 2006. ISBN  5-484-00414-4
  • Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends. Moscow: USSR, 2006. ISBN  5-484-00559-0 See especially Chapter 2 of this book
  • Korotayev A. & Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends in Africa. Moscow: USSR, 2006. ISBN  5-484-00560-4
  • Malthus, Thomas Robert (1826). „An Essay on the Principle of Population: A View of its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness, with an Inquiry Into Our Prospects, Respecting the Future or Mitigation of the Evils which It Occasions“(Sixth ed.). London: John Murray . Retrieved 2008-11-22 .
  • Turchin, P. , et al., Eds. (2007). History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies. Moscow: KomKniga. ISBN  5-484-01002-0
  • A Trap At The Escape From The Trap? Demographic-Structural Factors of Political Instability in Modern Africa and West Asia. Cliodynamics 2/2 (2011): 1-28 .