Malthus, Thomas Robert

(1766-1834)
An early political economist whose Essay on Population, first published in 1798 and frequently revised, had an enormous impact on theories of population. Malthus's father, a liberal English landowner and a friend of Rousseau , educated his own son until he went to Cambridge. There, Malthus was appointed a Fellow in 1793, and in 1797 he took Holy Orders. In 1805 he became Professor of History and Political Economy at the East India Company College at Haileybury.
In his Essay Malthus engaged with the contemporary debate about the perfectibility of humankind. Against writers such as Godwin and Condorcet , who believed that the human race was capable of ever greater improvement and happiness, Malthus, drawing on the work of Adam Smith and David Hume , pointed to the pressures and difficulties for the human race arising from what he called the ‘principle of population’. This was the natural tendency of populations to expand faster than resources. Populations could expand geometrically; resources no more than arithmetically. Inevitably, therefore, actual population growth was checked by insufficiency of resources, either by ‘positive’ checks (deaths from disease and starvation) or by ‘preventive’ checks (postponing marriage or sexual abstinence).
Malthus's views have been widely challenged, not least for the implication that attempts to remedy poverty by increasing resources must be unsuccessful since this only leads to further population expansion and further pressure on the ‘necessaries of life’, a view that was used to justify the harshness of the 1834 Poor Law Reforms in Britain. Karl Marx, for instance, contended that a population's capacity to feed itself depended primarily on economic and social organization: capitalism -not population growth-was to blame for poverty.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • Malthus,Thomas Robert — Mal·thus (mălʹthəs), Thomas Robert. 1766 1834. British economist who wrote An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), arguing that population tends to increase faster than food supply, with inevitably disastrous results, unless the increase… …   Universalium

  • Malthus, Thomas Robert — born Feb. 14/17, 1766, Rookery, near Dorking, Surrey, Eng. died Dec. 23, 1834, St. Catherine, near Bath, Somerset British economist and demographer. Born into a prosperous family, he studied at the University of Cambridge and was elected a fellow …   Universalium

  • Malthus, Thomas Robert — (1766–1834)    An Anglican clergyman, prominent political economist, and author of the doctrine that constricted food supplies must determine economic life. He had an unconventional education, for a clergyman, at a dissenting academy, and then at …   Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914

  • Malthus, Thomas Robert — (1766–1834) English social theorist. Although belonging principally to the history of science, Malthus s Essay on Populations (1798) was philosophically influential in undermining the Enlightenment belief in unlimited possibilities of human… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Malthus, Thomas Robert —   in geography, renowned for his theory of population as it relates to resources. Based on the principles that food production increases at an arithmetic rate, whereas population increases at an exponential rate, Malthus stated that population… …   Geography glossary

  • Malthus, Thomas Robert — ► (1766 1834) Economista británico. Su principal estudio es el Ensayo sobre los principios de la población (1798), en el que afirmaba que la población tiende a crecer en progresión geométrica, mientras que los alimentos solo aumentan en… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • MALTHUS, Thomas Robert — (1766 1834)    English economist and Curate at Albury, Surrey (1798). Aroused controversy by the argument he put forth in his book An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), in which he predicted inevitable famine …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Malthus, Thomas Robert — (1766 1834)    Economist, s. of a landed proprietor, was b. near Dorking, and ed.. at Jesus Coll., Camb., of which he became a Fellow. Taking orders he became incumbent of Albury, Essex. He travelled much on the continent, collecting information… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Thomas Robert Malthus — Malthus redirects here. For demon, see Malthus (demon). Thomas Robert Malthus Classical economics Thomas Robert Malthus Born February 14 …   Wikipedia

  • Thomas Robert Malthus — Thomas Malthus Thomas Robert Malthus Naissance 13 février 1766 Dorking, dans le Surrey (Royaume Uni) Décès …   Wikipédia en Français

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