T. Robert Malthus's Principle of Population Explained

Vol. 2 of the 6th expanded edition of the work. 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. The rewrite, culminating in the sixth edition of 1826, was a scholarly expansion and generalization of the first. In this work Malthus argues that there is a disparity between the rate of growth of population (which increases geometrically) and the rate of growth of agriculture (which increases only arithmetically). He then explores how populations have historically been kept in check.

1798 thomas malthus essay principle population of the …

 Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population, vol. 2 [1826, 6th ed.] [1826]

Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population

The Essay on the Principle of Population, which I published in 1798, was suggested, as is expressed in the preface, by a paper in Mr. Godwin's Inquirer. It was written on the impulse of the occasion, and from the few materials which were then within my reach in a country situation. The only authors from whose writings I had deduced the principle, which formed the main argument of the Essay, were Hume, Wallace, Adam Smith, and Dr. Price; and my object was to apply it, to try the truth of those speculations on the perfectibility of man and society, which at that time excited a considerable portion of the public attention.

Thomas Malthus: An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)

This and nothing more, is Malthus’s “Principle of Population.” Over the course of sociocultural evolution, however, the long-term tendency has been for both productivity and population to intensify.

An Essay On the Principle of Population by Thomas …
Malthus, Thomas - An Essay on the Principal of Population (EN, 1798, 140p.)

Thomas malthus an essay on the principle of..


Malthus made his groundbreaking economic arguments by treating human beings in a groundbreaking way. Rather than focusing on the individual, he looked at humans as groups of individuals, all of whom were subject to the same basic laws of behavior. He used the same principles that an ecologist would use studying a population of animals or plants. And indeed, Malthus pointed out that the same forces of fertility and starvation that shaped the human race were also at work on animals and plants. If flies went unchecked in their maggot-making, the world would soon be knee-deep in them. Most flies (and most members of any species you choose) must die without having any offspring. And thus when adapted Malthus’ ideas to his theory of evolution, it was clear to him that humans must evolve like any other animal.

which he published in 1798, was An Essay on the Principle of ..

Malthus an essay on the principle of population

On the possibility of increasing very considerably the effective population of this country, I have expressed myself in some parts of my work more sanguinely, perhaps, than experience would warrant. I have said, that in the course of some centuries it might contain two or three times as many inhabitants as at present and yet every person be both better fed and better clothed. And in the comparison of the increase of population and food at the beginning of the Essay, that the argument might not seem to depend upon a difference of opinion respecting facts, I have allowed the produce of the earth to be unlimited, which is certainly going too far. It is not a little curious therefore, that it should still continue to be urged against me as an argument, that this country might contain two or three times as many inhabitants; and it is still more curious, that some persons, who have allowed the different ratios of increase on which all my principal conclusions are founded, have still asserted that no difficulty or distress could arise from population, till the productions of the earth could not be further increased. I doubt whether a stronger instance could readily be produced of the total absence of the power of reasoning, than this assertion, after such a concession, affords. It involves a greater absurdity than the saying, that because a farm can by proper management be made to carry an additional stock of four head of cattle every year, that therefore no difficulty or inconvenience would arise if an additional forty were placed in it yearly.

Malthus thomas r an essay on the principle of population : E

tr malthus essay on principle of population nce

Throughout the whole of the present work I have so far differed in principle from the former, as to suppose the action of another check to population which does not come under the head either of vice or misery; and, in the latter part I have endeavoured to soften some of the harshest conclusions of the first Essay. In doing this, I hope that I have not violated the principles of just reasoning; nor expressed any opinion respecting the probable improvement of society, in which I am not borne out by the experience of the past. To those who still think that any check to population whatever would be worse than the evils which it would relieve, the conclusions of the former Essay will remain in full force; and if we adopt this opinion we shall be compelled to acknowledge, that the poverty and misery which prevail among the lower classes of society are absolutely irremediable.