An Essay On The Principles Of Population

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Thomas Malthus believed that natural rates of human reproduction, when unchecked, would lead to geometric increases in population: population would grow in a ratio of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and so on.

However, he believed that food production increased only in arithmetic progression: 2, 4, 6, 8, 10.

If all income and wealth were distributed among them, it would be totally wasted within one generation because of profligate behaviour and population growth, and they would be as poor and destitute as ever.

Paternalistic attempts to help the poor were therefore highly likely to fail.

In 300 years the number of Europeans -- counting those of unmixed descent living abroad -- increased more than sevenfold.

"Viewed in long-run perspective," writes Kingsley Davis, "the growth of the earth's population has been like a long, thin powder fuse that burns slowly and haltingly until it finally reaches the charge and then explodes." The most remarkable aspect of the increase in the population of the west which is called the Demographic Revolution is the growth of the English-speaking peoples; they multiplied from an estimated 5,500,000 in 1600 to 200,000,000 in 1940.Before starvation set in, Malthus advised that steps be taken to help the positive checks to do their work.He wrote: It is an evident truth that, whatever may be the rate of increase in the means of subsistence, the increase in population must be limited by it, at least after the food has been divided into the smallest shares that will support life. One hundred and fifty years later the advanced nations of Western Europe were to face a problem of declining numbers. One hundred and fifty years before, Europe had a static population of approximately 100,000,000.Moral restraint was the means by which the higher ranks of humans limited their family size in order not to dissipate their wealth among larger numbers of heirs.For the lower ranks of humans, vice and birth control were the means by which their numbers could be limited - but Malthus believed that these were insufficient to limit the vast numbers of the poor.Preventative checks reduced the birth rate; positive checks increased the death rate.Moral restraint, vice and birth control were the primary preventative checks.There are two versions of Thomas Robert Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population.The first, published anonymously in 1798, was so successful that Malthus soon elaborated on it under his real name.


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