Malthusianism is the idea That population growth is exponential Potentially while the growth of the food supply is arithmetical at best. It derives from the political / economic thought of the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus , as laid out in his 1798 writings, An Essay on the Principle of Population , Malthus believed there were two types of „checks“ that in all times and places kept population growth in line with the growth of the supply: „preventive checks“, such as moral restraints ( abstinence , delayed marriageuntil finances became balanced, and „positive checks“, which lead to premature death: disease, starvation, war, resulting in what is called a Malthusian catastrophe . The catastrophe would return to a lower, more „sustainable“, level. [1] [2] Malthusianism has been linked to a variety of political and social movements, but almost always refers to advocates of population control. [3]

Neo-Malthusianism is the advocacy of population control programs, to ensure resources for current and future populations. [2] In Malthusian, the term Malthusian can be more specifically referred to as „Preventive Malthusian League“ . [4] Neo-Malthusians differ from Malthus’s theories mainly in their enthusiasm for contraception. Malthus, a devout Christian, believed that „self-control“ (abstinence) was preferable to artificial birth control. In some editions of his essay, Malthus did not allow that to be effective on a large scale, thus advocating the use of artificial means of birth control as a solution to population „pressure“. [5] Modern „neo-Malthusians“ were more concerned than Malthus was, with environmental degradation and catastrophic famine than with poverty.

Malthusianism has attracted criticism from a range of different schools of thought, including Marxists [6] and socialists , [7] libertarians and free market enthusiasts, [8] [9] social conservatives , [10] feminists [11] and human rightsadvocates, characterizing it as excessively pessimistic, misanthropic or inhuman. [12] [13] [3] [14] Many critics believe Malthusianism has been discredited since the publication of Principle of Population, often citing advances in agricultural techniques and modern reductions in human fertility. [15] Many modern proponents believe that the concept of population growth is likely to continue to be positive, and „positive checks“ are still likely in the future. [16] [17]


Malthus was not the first to outline the problems he perceived. The original essay was part of an ongoing intellectual discussion at the end of the 18th century concerning the origins of poverty . Principle of Population Was SPECIFICALLY written as a rebuttal to thinkers like William Godwin and the Marquis de Condorcet , and Malthus’s own father Who Believed in the perfectibility of humanity. Malthus believed to be more likely to reproduce too rapidly.

His criticism of the working class tends to reproduce rapidly, and its belief that this, rather than exploitation by capitalists, led to their poverty, because of the fact that their theory of economics has been expanded. [18]

Malthusians perceived ideas of charity to the poor, typified by Tory paternalism , were futile, as they would only result in increased numbers of the poor; thesis theories played into Whig economic ideas Exemplified by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 . The Act has been described by opponents as „a Malthusian bill designed to force the poor to emigrate, to work for lower wages, to live on a coarser fate of food“, [19] which initiated the construction of workhouses despite riots and arson.

Malthus revised his theories in later editions of An Essay on the Principles of Population , a more optimistic tone, but there is some scholarly debate on the extent of his revisions. [1] According to Dan Ritschel of the Center for History Education at the University of Maryland,

The great Malthusian dread was that „indiscriminate charity“ would lead to exponential growth in the population in poverty, increased charges to the public purse to support this growing army of the dependent, and, eventually, the catastrophe of national bankruptcy . Malthusianism has been identified with the general population of Malthusian. [20]

One of the earliest critics was David Ricardo . Malthus immediately and correctly recognised to an attack on his theory of wages. Ricardo and Malthus debated this in a lengthy personal correspondence. [21]

Another one of the 19th century criticism of Malthusian theory was Karl Marx, who was referred to as „a schoolboyish, superficial plagiary of De Foe, Sir James Steuart, Townsend, Franklin, Wallace“ (in Capital , see Marx’s footnote on Malthus from Capital – reference below). Marx and Engels described Malthus as a „lackey of the bourgeoisie“. [18] Socialists and communists believed that Malthusian theories „blamed the poor“ for their own exploitation by the capitalist classes, and could be used to suppress the proletariat to an even greater degree, conditions of labor in the 19th century. citation needed]

One proponent of Malthusianism was the novelist Harriet Martineau whose circle of acquaintances included Charles Darwin , and the ideas of Malthus were a significant influence on the inception of Darwin’s theory of evolution . [22] Darwin was impressed by the idea that population growth would be more likely to be achieved than characteristics on to further generations. Proponents of Malthusianism were in turn influenced by Darwin’s ideas, both schools coming to influence the field of eugenics .Henry Fairfield Osborn, Jr. advocates „humane birth selection through humane birth control“ in order to avoid Malthusian catastrophe by eliminating the „unfit“. [1]

Malthusianism became a commonplace tradition as the 19th century advanced, mostly as a result of increasing the growth of agriculture, and increasing international trade. [1] Although a “ conservationist “ movement in the United States concerns itself with resource depletion and natural protection in the first half of the twentieth century, Desrochers and Hoffbauer write, „It is probably fair to say … that it was not until The publication of Osborn ’s and Vogt‘ s books [1948] That a Malthusian revival took hold of a significant segment of the American population. [1]

Modern Malthusianism

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Malthusian theory is a recurrent theme in many social sciences. John Maynard Keynes , in Economic Consequences of the Peace , opens his polemic with a Malthusian portrayal of the political economy of Europe as a result of Malthusian population pressure on food supplies. citation needed ] Many types of resource depletion and scarcity are available in the past. quote needed ]

In France, Such As terms “ Malthusian policy “ ( „Malthusian politics“) Refer to population control strategies. The concept of restriction of population with Malthus morphed, in the political economic theory, in the concept of restriction of production. In the French sense, a „Malthusian economy“ is one in which protectionism and the formation of cartels is not only tolerated but encouraged. quote needed ]

Vladimir Lenin , the leader of the Bolshevik Party and the main architect of the Soviet Union was a critic of Neo-Malthusian theory. [23]

„Neo-malthusianism“ is a concern That overpopulation May Increase resource depletion or environmental degradation to a degree That Is not sustainable with the potential of ecological collapse or other hazards . citation needed ]The term is also often connected with eugenics . quote needed ]

Malthus’s predicted population patterns; it also appears to describe socio-demographic dynamics of complex pre-industrial societies . These findings are the basis for neo-malthusian modern mathematical models of long-term historical dynamics . [24]

There Was a general „neo-Malthusian“ revival in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s partner after the publication of two influential books in 1948 ( Fairfield Osborn ’s Our Plundered Planet and William Vogt ’s Road to Survival ). During that time the population of the world rose dramatically. Many in the field of civilization began to warn about the potential dangers of population growth. [1] The Club of Rome published a book entitled The Limits to Growth in 1972. The report and organization became central to the neo-Malthusian revival. [25] Paul R. Ehrlichhas been one of the most prominent neo-Malthusians since the publication of The Population Bomb in 1968. Leading Ecological Economist Herman Daly has acknowledged the influence of Malthus on his concept of a steady-state economy . [26] : xvi Other prominent Malthusians include the Paddock Brothers, Authors of Famine 1975! America’s Decision: Who Will Survive?

The neo-Malthusian revival HAS drawn criticism from writers claim the Malthusian warnings Who Were overstated or premature Because The green revolution HAS Brought substantial businesses Increases in food producing and will be reliable to keep up with population growth continued. [15] [27] Julian Simon , a cornucopian has written that contrary to neo-malthusian theory, the earth’s „carrying capacity“ is essentially limitless. [1] [ how? ] Responding to Simon, Al Bartlett reiterates the potential of population growth as an exponential (or as expressed by Malthus, „geometrical“) to both natural resources and human ingenuity. [28]Bartlett writes and reads particularly on energy supplies, and describes the „inability to understand the exponential function“ as the „greatest shortcoming of the human race“. [29]

Prominent neo-malthusians such as Paul Ehrlich maintain that ultimately, population growth is still too high, and will eventually lead to a serious crisis. [12] [30] The 2007-2008 World Food Prices Crisis Further Malthusian arguments regarding the prospects for global food supply. [31]

See also

  • Doomer
  • Food Race
  • Food security
  • Garrett Hardin
  • Law of Rent
  • Malthusian trap
  • NSSM 200 : a National Security Council Study advocating population reduction in selected countries for US security and interests
  • List of population concern organizations
  • Peak Oil
  • Political demography
  • Population ecology
  • Survivalism
  • Risks to civilization, Humans and Planet Earth
  • Subsistence theory of wages
  • “ The dismal science „
  • Tragedy of the Commons


  1. ^ Jump up to:g Pierre Desrochers; Christine Hoffbauer (2009). „The Post War Intellectual Roots of the Population Bomb“ (PDF) . The Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development . 1 (3). Archived from the original(PDF) on March 2, 2012 . Retrieved 2010-02-01 . unreliable source? ]
  2. ^ Jump up to:b Meredith Marsh, Peter S. Alagona, ed. (2008). Barrons AP Human Geography 2008 Edition . Barron’s Educational Series. ISBN  978-0-7641-3817-1 .
  3. ^ Jump up to:b Dolan, Brian (2000). Malthus, Medicine & Morality: Malthusianism after 1798 . Rodopi. ISBN  978-90-420-0851-9 .
  4. Jump up^ Hall, Lesley. „Malthusian Mutations: The Changing Politics and Moral Meanings of Birth Control in Britain“ . Dolan (2000), Malthus, Medicine & Morality: Malthusianism after 1798 , p. 141: Rodopi.
  5. Jump up^ Veer, Udai (2005). Modern Teaching of Population Education . Anmol Publications PVT. LTD. ISBN  978-81-261-1878-6 .
  6. Jump up^ See for example:Ronald L. Meek, ed. (1973). Marx and Engels on the Bomb Population . The Ramparts Press. Archived from the original on 2000-05-21.
  7. Jump up^ Barry Commoner (May 1972). „A Dialogue Bulletin: on“ The Closing Circle „- Response“ . Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists : 17-56.
  8. Jump up^ Simon, JL (June 27, 1980). „Resources, Population, Environment: An Oversupply of False Bad News“. Science . 208 (4451): 1431-37. doi :10.1126 / science.7384784 . JSTOR  1684670 . PMID  7384784 .
  9. Jump up^ Bailey, Ronald(2010-12-30)“Cracked Crystal Ball: Environmental Catastrophe Edition“, Reason .
  10. Jump up^ Johnson, Ben (February 27, 2009). „Obama’s Biggest Radical“ . FrontPage Magazine . Retrieved 2011-04-27 .
  11. Jump up^ Knudsen, Lara Reproductive Rights in a Global Context: South Africa, Uganda, Peru, Denmark, United States, Vietnam, Jordan , Vanderbilt University Press, 2006, pp. 2-4. ISBN 0-8265-1528-2,ISBN 978-0-8265-1528-5.
  12. ^ Jump up to:b Kunstler, James Howard (2005). The Long Emergency . Grove Press. p. 6. ISBN  978-0-8021-4249-8 .
  13. Jump up^ Serge Luryi (May 2006). „Physics, Philosophy, and … Ecology“ (PDF). Physics Today . 59 : 51. doi : 10.1063 / 1.2216962 . Archived from the original (PDF) on July 21, 2011.
  14. Jump up^ Frank W. Elwell (2001). „Reclaiming Malthus, Keynote address to the Annual Meeting of the Anthropologists and Sociologist of Kentucky“ . Retrieved 2011-04-19 .
  15. ^ Jump up to:b Bjørn Lomborg (2002). The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World . Cambridge University Press. ISBN  978-0-521-01068-9 .
  16. Jump up^ Colin Fraser (February 3, 2008). „Green revolution could still blow up in our face“ . The Age .
  17. Jump up^ Cristina Luiggi (2010). „Still Ticking“ . The Scientist . 24 (12): 26. Archived from the original on January 1, 2011.
  18. ^ Jump up to:b Neurath, Paul (1994). From Malthus to the Club of Rome and Back. ME Sharpe. p. 5. ISBN  9781563244070 .
  19. Jump up^ Adrian J. Desmond, The Politics of Evolution: Morphology, Medicine, and Reform in Radical London , University of Chicago Press, 1989, p. 126.
  20. Jump up^ UMBC. ArchivedJune 21, 2007, at theWayback Machine.
  21. Jump up^ David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo , ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of Mr. H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005), 11 vols.
  22. Jump up^ Charles Darwin: gentleman naturalistA biographical sketch by John van Wyhe, 2006
  23. Jump up^ VI Lenin,“The Working Class and Neo-Malthusianism“, 1913.
  24. Jump up^ See, eg,Peter Turchin2003; Turchin and Korotayev 2006ArchivedFebruary 29, 2012, at theWayback Machine. Peter Turchin et al. 2007; Korotayevet al. 2006.
  25. Jump up^ Wouter van Dieren, ed. (1995). Taking Nature Into Account: A Report to the Club of Rome . Springer Books. ISBN  978-0-387-94533-0 .
  26. Jump up^ Daly, Herman E. (1991). Steady-state economics (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Island Press. ISBN  1559630728 .
  27. Jump up^ Dan Gardner (2010). Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Fail – and Why We Believe Them Anyway . Toronto: McClelland and Stewart.
  28. Jump up^ Bartlett, Al (September 1996). „The New Flat Earth Society“ . The Physics Teacher . 34 (6): 342-43. doi : 10.1119 / 1.2344473 . Retrieved 9 April 2013 .
  29. Jump up^ „Albert Bartlett on growth“ . Retrieved 9 April 2013 .
  30. Jump up^ Paul R. Ehrlich; Anne H. Ehrlich (2009). „The Population Bomb Revisited“ (PDF) . Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development . 1(3): 63-71 . Retrieved 2010-02-01 .
  31. Jump up^ Brown, Lester (May-June 2011). „The New Geopolitics of Food“ . Foreign Policy . Archived from the original on 27 November 2011 . Retrieved 7 June 2011 .


  • Korotayev , A., et al. 2006. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics . Moscow: KomKniga. ISBN  5-484-00559-0
  • Turchin, P. , et al. (eds), 2007. History & Mathematics: Historical Dynamics and Development of Complex Societies. Moscow: KomKniga. ISBN  5-484-01002-0
  • Turchin, P .; Korotayev (2006). „Population Dynamics and Internal Warfare: A Reconsideration“ . Social Evolution & History . 5 (2): 112-47.
  • 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 .