Essay on Thomas Malthus and the Principle of Population

Essay on Thomas Malthus and the Principle of Population

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1. Introduction
This essay deals with Thomas Malthus and the first two chapters of his “Essay on the Principle of Population”. At first I will provide a short biographical note on Malthus and I will also mention his main achievements. Then, a summary of Malthus' main ideas of the first two chapters of mentioned work follows. Afterward, the essay concludes with a personal note.
2. A short biography
Thomas Robert Malthus was born in 1766 (course textbook, n. d.) in Surrey, England, as the sixth son of a wealthy intellectual family and he died in 1834 (Weikard, n. d.).
He was mainly concerned with population growth and poverty in the English society of his time. It was an answer to the precarious human situation back then. Malthus identified that the ratio of population growth differs from the ratio of growth of food supply. He also explained two kinds of checks on population: preventive and positive checks (course textbook, n. d.).
Malthus’ main achievement is his population theory. In 1798 he published his most important work, namely the “Essay on the Principle of Population”. Another, revised, edition on the topic was launched in 1803 (course textbook, n. d.). He was also concerned with the concept of rent (course textbook, n. d.). Ricardo’s theory of growth is largely based on Malthus’ population theory (Weikard, n. d.).
3. Summary of the “Essay on the principle of population”
In his text, Malthus provides an explanation for the population growth of human societies. He explains why population growth occurs, which behaviour distinguishes human beings from animals and which remedies exist concerning population growth.
Malthus begins his argument mentioning that all living creatures, no matter which, strive to “[...] increa...


... middle of paper ...


...ve to decrease before an increase of the living standard is possible, but today’s society shows that a higher number of human beings and an increase of food supply per head do not exclude each other necessarily (Maddison, 2003). This development is mainly due to the technological progress to which also Malthus refers shortly in his text. In the time he lived, these developments were still not observable as clearly as today. Therefore it remains to say that his text is an outstanding contribution to the knowledge of his time, but readjustment to today’s context is necessary.



Works Cited

Course Textbook (n. d.) Chapter 5: Ricardo and Malthus
Maddison, A. (2003) The World Economy: Historical Statistics, Paris, OECD
Malthus, T. R. (1798) Essay on the Principle of Population, Chapters 1 and 2, pp. 1-13
Weikard, H.-P. (n. d.) Lecture Notes III: Malthus and Ricardo

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