Essays and criticism on Thomas Robert Malthus - Critical Essays

Malthus, Thomas Robert,  John Murray. 1826. (6th edition) Library of Economics and Liberty.
Photo provided by Pexels

Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766-1834): British Political Economist

Economist has criticised Malthus's conclusions. He notes that despite the predictions of Malthus and the Neo-, massive growth in the 20th century did not result in a . Many factors may have contributed: general improvements in methods (), mechanization of work (), the introduction of high-yield varieties of and other plants (), the use of to control crop pests. Each played a role. The presents data showing that the has actually improved. produced per day per capita globally went up 23% between 1960 and 2000, despite the doubling during that period.

Malthus thought that the dangers of population growth would prevent endless progress towards a  society:
Photo provided by Pexels

Thomas Robert Malthus - Wikipedia

Once again, Darwin makes reference to Malthus' 25 year doubling time for the population of the United States Of America (citing the 6th edition of Malthus' essay, written in 1826):

Thomas Robert Malthus was the first economist to propose a systematic theory of population
Photo provided by Pexels

Malthus placed the longer-term stability of the economy above short-term expediency. He criticised the , and (alone among important contemporary economists) supported the , which introduced a system of taxes on British imports of wheat. He thought these measures would encourage domestic production, and so promote long-term benefits.

Thomas Malthus - Population growth overpowers food supply growth, creating perpetual states of hunger, disease, and struggle
Photo provided by Pexels

Malthusian Theory of Population

Contrary to this concept of rent, Malthus states that rent cannot exist except in the case of surplus. Also he says that rent, once accumulated, becomes subsequently a source of capital re-investment, causing positive effects through the growth and accumulation of productive wealth. He proposes rent to be a kind of surplus.

Malthusian Theory of Population

Other theoretical and political critiques of Malthus and Malthusian thinking emerged soon after the publication of the first Essay on Population, most notably in the work of the reformist , of the essayist (1807) and of the economist , and moralist . Note also True Law of Population (1845) by politician , an adherent of Cobbett's views.

Thomas Malthus was a Reverend who studied English

In this work, his first published pamphlet, Malthus argues against the notion prevailing in his locale that the greed of intermediaries caused the high price of provisions. Instead, Malthus says that the high price stems from the which "increase the parish allowances in proportion to the price of corn". Thus, given a limited supply, the Poor Laws force up the price of daily necessities. Then he concludes by saying that in time of scarcity such Poor Laws, by raising the price of corn more evenly, produce a beneficial effect.

He was popular for his theory of rent

Engels called Malthus's hypothesis "...the crudest, most barbarous theory that ever existed, a system of despair which struck down all those beautiful phrases about love thy neighbour and world citizenship." Engels also predicted[citation needed] that science would solve the problem of an adequate food supply.

Glossary of People: Ma - Marxists Internet Archive

"A circumstance which has, perhaps, more than any other, contributed to conceal this oscillation from common view, is the difference between the nominal and real price of labour. It very rarely happens that the nominal price of labour universally falls; but we well know that it frequently remains the same, while the nominal price of provisions has been gradually rising. This, indeed, will generally be the case, if the increase of manufactures and commerce be sufficient to employ the new labourers that are thrown into the market, and to prevent the increased supply from lowering the money-price.10 But an increased number of labourers receiving the same money-wages will necessarily, by their competition, increase the money-price of corn. This is, in fact, a real fall in the price of labour; and, during this period, the condition of the lower classes of the community must be gradually growing worse. But the farmers and capitalists are growing rich from the real cheapness of labour. Their increasing capitals enable them to employ a greater number of men; and, as the population had probably suffered some check from the greater difficulty of supporting a family, the demand for labour, after a certain period, would be great in proportion to the supply, and its price would of course rise, if left to find its natural level; and thus the wages of labour, and consequently the condition of the lower classes of society, might have progressive and retrograde movements, though the price of labour might never nominally fall.