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Malthusian Theory of Population.

Rapid increase in the population of the world since 1900 has been the main cause of poverty, illiteracy and economic misery particularly in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Population of the world was only 200 million in 1 A.D and doubled to 450 million in 1500 A.D. Thus it took 1500 years to double but later on it 350 years to jump from 450 million to 1200 million. But after 1900 the rate of increase in the population became very fast. It stood at 106 billion in 1900 but jumped to 3 billion in 1960, 4 billion in 1975, and 6.1 billion in 2000. In the years 2009 it stood at 6.7 billion. The world population has become 7.5 billion in 2020 and it is projected 9 billion in 2050.

Economically, spacing the economic resources especially food stuffs are not increasing as fast as the tempo of the growth of world population.

Malthusian Theory of Population:

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was an English economist and clergyman. In 1798, his famous essay ”Principle of Population as it effects the future improvement of society” was published. This book contained his theory regarding increase of world population. The Malthusian theory states that the world population is increasing geometrically but the food supply is increasing arithmetically and thus the shortage of food leads to famine, war and diseases. Main features of Malthusian theory include the followeing:

  • The human beings have a natural sex desire. As a result the population increases in geometrical progression (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 . . . . . ) and at this rate it become double after every 25 years.
  • The food supply increases in a slow arithmetical progression (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 . . . . . .) on the basis of law of diminishing returns.
  • The continuous rapid increase in population will result in shortage of food causing famine and diseases. The only way to check this imbalance is that the rapid growth of population may be controlled.
  • As a result of this imbalance there would be an over population.
  • Malthus suggested preventive checks and positive checks to control imbalance in the growth of population and food supply. The preventive checks are applied by men to control birth rate through moral restraints, late marriage and celibacy. In case the preventive steps fail to check the growth of population then the positive checks come into play. These include famine, disasters, wars, infectious diseases and other calamities which reduce human population in the world.

Criticism of Malthusian theory of Population:

Importance of Malthusian Theory of Population:


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