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In demography, the term demographic transition is a theory describing a possible transition from high birth rates and death rates to low birth and death rates as part of the economic development of a country from a pre-industrial to an industrialized economy. Usually it is described through the "Demographic Transition Model" (DTM) that describes the population changes over time. It is based on an interpretation begun in 1929 by the American demographer Warren Thompson of prior observed changes, or transitions, in birth and death rates in industrialized societies over the past two hundred years. Most developed countries are already in stage four of the model, the majority of developing countries are in stage 2 or stage 3, and no country is currently still in stage 1. The model has explained human population evolution relatively well in Europe and other highly developed countries. Many developing countries have moved into stage 3. The major exceptions are poor countries, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and several Middle Eastern countries, which are poor or affected by government policy or civil strife, notably Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen and Afghanistan.
1 Origins Of DTM
2 Summary of the theory
3 Stage One
4 Stage Two
5 Stage Three
6 Stage Four
7 Stage Five
8 Criticism of the DTM
8.1 Non-Applicability to Less Developed Countries
8.2 Neo-Malthusian objections
8.3 Generalization from European experience
8.4 Subsistence farming and capital formation
8.5 Insufficiency of wealth effect on fertility
9 Further reading
10 See also
 Origins Of DTM
The idea of DTM was first advanced by Warren Thompson in 1929. He divided the world into three major groups:
countries with rapidly declining birth and death rates, with fertility declining more rapidly than mortality, resulting in a declining growth rate (North and Western Europe, North America and Australasia)
countries with declining birth and death rates in certain socio-economic strata, with the rate of decline of the death rate higher than the decline in the birth rate (Central and Southern Europe)
countries with high birth rates and high, but declining death rates (rest of the world)
Frank W. Notestein developed this theory in 1945 and suggested that there was a relationship between population change and industrial development. He suggested that with time, countries go through a linear evolution from traditional, non-industrial society to a modern, industrial and urban one.
 Summary of the theory
Demographic change in Sweden from 1735 to 2000.The transition involves four stages, or possibly five.
In stage one, pre-industrial society, death rates and birth rates are high and roughly in balance.
In stage two, that of a developing country, the death rates drop rapidly due to improvements in food supply and sanitation, which increase life spans and reduce disease. These changes usually come about due to improvements in farming techniques, access to technology, basic healthcare, and education. Without a corresponding fall in birth rates this produces an imbalance, and the countries in this stage experience a large increase in population.
In stage three birth rates fall due to access to contraception, increases in wages, urbanization, a reduction in subsistence agriculture, an increase in the status and education of women, a reduction in the value of children's work, an increase in parental investment in the education of children and other social changes. Population growth begins to level off.
During stage four there are both low birth rates and low death rates. Birth rates may drop to well below replacement level as has happened in countries like Italy, Spain and Japan, leading to a shrinking population, a threat to many industries that rely on population growth. The large group born during stage two ages and creates an economic burden on the shrinking working population. Death rates may remain consistently low or increase slightly due to increases in lifestyle diseases due to low exercise levels and high obesity and an ageing population in developed countries.
As with all models, this is an idealized picture of population change in these countries. The model is a generalization that applies to these countries as a group and may not accurately describe all individual cases. The extent to which it applies to less-developed societies today remains to be seen. Many countries such as China, Brazil and Thailand have passed through the DTM very quickly due to fast social and economic change. Some countries, particularly African countries, appear to be stalled in the second stage due to stagnant development and the effect of AIDS.
 Stage One
In pre-industrial society death rates and birth rates were both high and fluctuated rapidly according to natural events, such as drought and disease, to produce a relatively constant and young population. Children contributed to the economy of the household from an early age as they did such work as carrying messages, water, younger siblings, firewood, sweeping, washing dishes and preparing food and some work in the fields. As the cost of raising children was hardly more than the cost of feeding them, as they had no educational or entertainment expenses and, in equatorial Africa, did not even require clothes, this cost barely exceeded their contribution to the household. In addition, as they became adults they became a major input into the family business, mainly farming, and were the major form of insurance in old age. In India an adult son was all that prevented a widow from falling into destitution. While death rates remained high there was no question as to the need for children, even if the means to prevent them had existed.
 Stage Two
World population 10,000 BC - 2000 ADThis stage leads to a fall in death rates and increase in population. The changes leading to this stage in Europe were initiated in the Agricultural Revolution of the 18th century and was initially quite slow. In the 20th century, the falls in death rates in developing countries tended to be substantially faster. Countries in this stage include Yemen, Afghanistan, Palestine, Bhutan and Laos and much of Sub-Saharan Africa (but do not include South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia, Kenya and Ghana, which have begun to move into stage 3). The decline in the death rate is due initially to two factors:
First, improvements in the food supply brought about by higher yields in agricultural practices and better transportation prevent death due to starvation. Agricultural improvements included crop rotation, selective breeding, and seed drill technology.
Second, significant improvements in public health reduce mortality, particularly in childhood. These are not so much medical breakthroughs (Europe passed through stage two before the advances of the mid-20th century, although there was significant medical progress in the 19th century, such as the development of vaccination) as they are improvements in water supply, sewerage, food handling, and general personal hygiene following from growing scientific knowledge of the causes of disease and the improved education and social status of mothers.
A consequence of the decline in mortality in Stage Two is an increasingly rapid rise in population growth (a "population explosion") as the gap between deaths and births grows wider. Note that this growth is not due to an increase in fertility (or birth rates) but to a decline in deaths. This change in population occurred in northwestern Europe during the 19th century due to the Industrial Revolution. During the second half of the 20th century less-developed countries entered Stage Two, creating the worldwide population explosion that has demographers concerned today.
Angola 2005Another characteristic of Stage Two of the demographic transition is a change in the age structure of the population. In Stage One, the majority of deaths are concentrated in the first 5–10 years of life. Therefore, more than anything else, the decline in death rates in Stage Two entails the increasing survival of children and a growing population. Hence, the age structure of the population becomes increasingly youthful and more of these children enter the reproductive cycle of their lives while maintaining the high fertility rates of their parents. The bottom of the "age pyramid" widens first, accelerating population growth. The age structure of such a population is illustrated by using an example from the Third World today.
 Stage Three
Stage Three moves the population towards stability through a decline in the birth rate. There are several factors contributing to this eventual decline, although some of them remain speculative:
In rural areas continued decline in childhood death means that at some point parents realize they need not require so many children to be born to ensure a comfortable old age. As childhood death continues to fall and incomes increase parents can become increasingly confident that fewer children will suffice to help in family business and care for them in old age.
Increasing urbanization changes the traditional values placed upon fertility and the value of children in rural society. Urban living also raises the cost of dependent children to a family.
In both rural and urban areas, the cost of children to parents is exacerbated by the introduction of compulsory education acts and the increased need to educate children so they can take up a respected position in society. Children are increasingly prohibited under law from working outside the household and make an increasingly limited contribution to the household, as school children are increasingly exempted from the expectation of making a significant contribution to domestic work. Even in equatorial Africa, children now need to be clothed, and may even require school uniforms. Parents begin to consider it a duty to buy children books and toys. Partly due to education and access to family planning, people begin to reassess their need for children and their ability to raise them.
A major factor in reducing birth rates in stage 3 countries such as Malaysia is the availability of family planning facilities, like this one in Kuala Terenganu, Terenganu, Malaysia.Increasing female literacy and employment lower the uncritical acceptance of childbearing and motherhood as measures of the status of women. Working women have less time to raise children; this is particularly an issue where fathers traditionally make little or no contribution to child-raising, such as southern Europe or Japan. Valuation of women beyond childbearing and motherhood becomes important.
Improvements in contraceptive technology are now a major factor. Fertility decline is caused as much by changes in values about children and sex as by the availability of contraceptives and knowledge of how to use them.
The resulting changes in the age structure of the population include a reduction in the youth dependency ratio and eventually population aging. The population structure becomes less triangular and more like an elongated balloon. During the period between the decline in youth dependency and rise in old age dependency there is a demographic window of opportunity that can potentially produce economic growth through an increase in the ratio of working age to dependent population; the demographic dividend.
However, unless factors such as those listed above are allowed to work, a society's birth rates may not drop to a low level in due time, which means that the society cannot proceed to Stage Four and is locked in what is called a demographic trap.
Countries that have experienced a fertility decline of over 40% from their pre-transition levels include: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Jamaica, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Surinam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, South Africa and many Pacific islands.
Countries that have experienced a fertility decline of 25-40% include: Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Bolivia, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, Bangladesh, Tajikistan, Iran, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Zimbabwe and Botswana.
Countries that have experienced a fertility decline of 10-25% include: Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Botswana, Kenya, Ghana and Senegal.
 Stage Four
Traditionally many demographers have assumed that the demographic transition would be complete when populations reached similarly low birth and death rates so that populations would become essentially stable, although no convincing social mechanism has been put forward for this view.
Countries that are at this stage (Total Fertility Rate of less than 2.5 in 1997) include: United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most of Europe, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Singapore, China, North Korea, Thailand and Mauritius.
 Stage Five
Diagram showing stage fiveThe original Demographic Transition model has just four stages, but it is now widely accepted that a fifth stage is needed to represent countries that have undergone the economic transition from manufacturing based industries into service and information based industries called deindustrialization. Countries such as Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and most notably Japan, whose populations are now reproducing well below their replacement levels, that is they are not producing enough children to replace their parent's generation. China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Cuba are also below replacement, but this is not producing a fall in population yet in these countries, because their populations are relatively young due to strong growth in the recent past. The population of southern Europe is already falling and Japan and some of western Europe will soon begin to fall without significant immigration. However, many countries that now have sub-replacement fertility did not reach this stage gradually but rather suddenly as a result of economic crisis brought on by the post-communist transition in the late 1980's and the 1990's. Examples include Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic States. The population of these countries is falling due to fertility decline, emigration and, particularly in Russia, increased male mortality.
 Criticism of the DTM
 Non-Applicability to Less Developed Countries
One of the principal criticisms of the DTM is the questionable applicability to less developed countries, where the prerequisites for wealth and information access are limited. Applicability of the DTM to less developed countries has been questioned on several grounds. For example, the DTM has been validated primarily in Europe, Japan and North America where demographic data exists over centuries, whereas high quality demographic data for most LDCs did not become widely available until the mid 20th century. Secondly, the DTM does not account for recent phenomena such as AIDS; fully 94 percent of all HIV cases are found in underdeveloped countries, and thus the mortality decline of most of Sub-Saharan Africa has been arrested starting in the mid-1990s. This trend is so marked that two thirds of children in many sub-Saharan African countries are projected to have HIV infection by the time they have reached age 50 (or die from HIV before). In these areas HIV has become the leading source of mortality. Some trends in waterborne bacterial infant mortality are also disturbing in countries like Malawi, Sudan and Nigeria; for example, progress in the DTM model clearly arrested and reversed between 1975 and 2005. The above data lead to the questioning of the applicability to many lesser developed countries. DTM is used widely to minimize concerns regarding overpopulation and paint an overly optimistic version of the future.
 Neo-Malthusian objections
The DTM is used to classify countries into general groups. Hence, it is unable to take into account evolutionary changes in the process of population growth and classify diverse population into distinct but coherent stages of the development process. Neo-Malthusians argue that the long-term fertility of a population depends on the most rapidly-breeding subgroups within the population. If a rapidly-breeding subgroup sustains its high fertility, it will eventually expand its numbers and restore the whole population to higher fertility.
All over the world groups with lower income, lower educational levels and more traditional social beliefs have higher fertility. In most countries poor parents decide to have many children and invest little in education, which implies that more weight gets placed on such families. Consequently, an increase in inequality lowers average education and, therefore, economic growth. Until now, DTM provides no explanation for this demographic-economic paradox and its possible dysgenic consequences, which may cause a cyclic behavior of human population dynamics.
This is similar to the evolution of resistance to pesticides in insects, and to antibiotics among pathogens: the first applications kill large numbers, but a few surviving resistant individuals may eventually make good on the losses through exponential growth. In other words, a criticism of the DTM is that it is only valid if the fertility-lowering social changes that caused the DTM in present-day industrial nations permanently lower the fertility of every subgroup within each nation (which would imply no tendency of high-fertility individuals to produce high-fertility offspring). Garrett Hardin doubted that purely voluntary birth control could achieve that result; Hardin argued that voluntary birth control merely selects against the people who will use it.
This view appears to be an echo of the eugenics movement of the early 20th century, which was concerned that various minority groups would overwhelm the US or German populations in the long run through higher fertility and immigration. While "overwhelm" may be an excessively alarmist term, the white population in the United States certainly is declining in percentage terms in the 21st century. At the contrary, the critics of the Neo-Malthusian view believe that all human subgroups are subject to social and economic changes and that this is likely to overwhelm any tendency for a subgroup to have higher fertility in the long run. However, Hardin's doubts in the sufficiency of purely voluntary birth control were not based on group behavior but on individual variation. Regardless of what the average fertility is for any group, some people will have more children than the mean for their group, and some will have fewer. According to Hardin, if the daughters of a woman who bore more children than the mean for her group go on to bear more children than the mean for their generation and group, this could be evidence for some sort of heritability of individual fertility, i.e., resistance to the cultural factors that lower the average fertility. If such resistance is heritable (whether culturally or genetically), then over time the percentage of people who are resistant could increase enough to create an entire population with a kind of "pesticide resistance" to the factors that gave rise to the demographic transition in the previously susceptible population, and population growth could resume. However, this effect would require several generations of sustained selection to become visible, if only a small percentage of people were initially carriers of this supposed resistance, and by then culture may have changed in other unpredictable ways.
 Generalization from European experience
The DTM is also limited in the sense that it gives a generalized picture of population change over time based on European studies, assuming that all countries would follow suit. In addition, the DTM is rigid in assuming that all countries will go through the stages 1 to 4 in that exact order. There are variables and exceptions such as war and turmoil that may lead to different results. Some countries may even skip stages. Demographic data for lesser developed countries span about five decades compared to 30 or more decades for developed countries, leading to questionable extrapolation of the experiences of the most developed countries.
 Subsistence farming and capital formation
The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has argued that one obstacle to industrial development is that subsistence farmers can not convert their work into capital which can be used to start new businesses and trigger industrializations. He argues that these obstacles exist often because subsistence farmers do not have clear title to the land which they work and to the crops which they produce.
 Insufficiency of wealth effect on fertility
Some versions of the DTM assume that population changes are induced by industrial changes and increased wealth, without taking into account the role of social change in determining birth rates, e.g, the education of women. In fact the developers of the DTM were aware of the importance of social change, but some were content to analyse the statistics of the transition rather than develop a comprehensive explanation for it. In recent decades more work has been done on developing the social mechanisms behind it.
Some have claimed that the DTM assumes that the birth rate is independent of the death rate. For instance, they point to evidence at the level of families that child mortality leads to higher fertility, as parents try to replace their dead children. Nevertheless, demographers maintain that there is no historical evidence for society-wide fertility rates rising significantly after high mortality events. Notably, some historic populations have taken many years to replace lives lost in major mortality events such as the Black Death.
Some have claimed that DTM does not explain the early fertility declines in much of Asia in the second half of the 20th century or the delays in fertility decline in parts of the Middle East. Nevertheless, the demographer John C Caldwell has suggested that the reason for the rapid decline in fertility in some developing countries compared to Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand is mainly due to government programs and a massive investment in education both by governments and parents. On the other hand, birth rates remain high in some nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, despite great increases in prosperity, probably partly as a result of government policy and partly as a result of the limited need and opportunity for mothers to work.
 Further reading
Caldwell, John C. 1976. "Toward a restatement of demographic transition theory." Population and Development Review 2:321-366.
Caldwell, John C.; Bruce K Caldwell, Pat Caldwell, Peter F McDonald, Thomas Schindlmayr (2006). Demographic Transition Theory. Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer, 418. ISBN 1-4020-4373-2.
Coale, Ansley J. 1973. "The demographic transition," IUSSP Liege International Population Conference. Liege: IUSSP. Volume 1: 53-72.
Coale, Ansley J., Barbara A. Anderson, and Erna Härm. 1979. Human Fertility in Russia since the Nineteenth Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Coale, Ansley J. and Susan C. Watkins, Eds. 1987. The Decline of Fertility in Europe. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Davis, Kingsley. 1963. "The theory of change and response in modern demographic history." Population Index 29(October): 345-366.
Hirschman, Charles. 1994. "Why fertility changes." Annual Review of Sociology 20: 203-233.
Korotayev, Andrey; Malkov, Artemy & Khaltourina, Daria (2006). Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow, Russia: URSS, 128. ISBN 5-484-00414-4 (?).
Borgerhoff, Luttbeg B.; Borgerhoff Mulder, M. and Mangel, M. S. (2000). To marry or not to marry? A dynamic model of marriage behavior and demographic transition.. (Note: Click "Publications," then click on title.) in Cronk, L.; N. A. Chagnon and W. Irons, eds. (2000). Human behavior and adaptation: An anthropological perspective.. New York: Aldine Transaction, 528. ISBN 0-202-02044-4.
Montgomery, Keith. The Demographic Transition
Notestein, Frank W. 1945. "Population — The Long View," in Theodore W. Schultz, Ed., Food for the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Thompson, Warren S. 1929. "Population". American Sociological Review 34(6): 959-975.
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History of economics
Thomas Robert Malthus
Name: Thomas Robert Malthus
Birth: 13th February, 1766 (Surrey, Great Britain)
Death: 29th December, 1834 (Bath, United Kingdom)
Field: demography, macroeconomics, evolutionary economics
Influences: Adam Smith, David Ricardo
Opposed: William Godwin, Marquis de Condorcet, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Ricardo
Influenced: Charles Darwin, Francis Place, Garrett Hardin, John Maynard Keynes, Pierre Francois Verhulst, Alfred Russel Wallace
Contributions: Malthusian growth model
Thomas Robert Malthus, FRS (13th February, 1766 – 29th December, 1834), usually known as Thomas Malthus, although he preferred to be known as "Robert Malthus", was an English demographer and political economist. He is best known for his highly influential views on population growth.
2 Principle of population
3 Malthus' population predictions
7 References in popular culture
8 See also
9 Further reading
10 Internal links
12 External links
Thomas Robert Malthus was born to Daniel and Henrietta Malthus, the sixth of seven children. They were a prosperous family, his father being a personal friend of the philosopher David Hume and an acquaintance of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The young Malthus was educated at home until his admission to Jesus College, Cambridge in 1784. There he studied many subjects and took prizes in English declamation, Latin and Greek, but his principal subject was mathematics. He earned a masters degree in 1791 and was elected a fellow of Jesus College two years later. In 1797, he was ordained and became an Anglican country parson.
Malthus married his first cousin once removed Harriet Eckersall, on April 12th, 1804 and had three children, Henry, Emily and Lucy. In 1805 he became Britain's first professor in political economy at the East India Company College at Hertford Heath, near Hertford in Hertfordshire, now known as Haileybury. His students affectionately referred to him as "Pop", or "Population" Malthus. One student in particular, Graham Fischer, wrote a responsive essay concerning population growth and criticizing many of the ideas proposed by Thomas Malthus. It was later publicized by Dr. Tom Klein, a future professor of his. In 1818, he was selected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
Thomas Robert Malthus refused to have his portrait painted until 1833 because of embarrassment over a hare lip. This was finally corrected by surgery, and Malthus was then considered "handsome." Malthus also had a cleft palate (inside his mouth) that affected his speech. These cleft related birth defects were relatively common in his family. Malthus was buried at Bath Abbey in England.
 Principle of population
Malthus' views were largely developed in reaction to the optimistic views of his father and his associates, notably Rousseau. Malthus's essay was also in response to the views of the Marquis de Condorcet. In An Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798, Malthus made the famous prediction that population would outrun food supply, leading to a decrease in food per person. (Case & Fair, 1999: 790). He even went so far as to specifically predict that this must occur by the middle of the 19th century, a prediction which failed for several reasons, including his use of static analysis, taking recent trends and projecting them indefinitely into the future, which often fails for complex systems.
“ The power of population is so superior to the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race. The vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction, and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and tens of thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world. ”
This Principle of Population was based on the idea that population if unchecked increases at a geometric rate (i.e. 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.) whereas the food supply grows at an arithmetic rate (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.).
Only natural causes (eg. accidents and old age), misery (war, pestilence, and above all famine), moral restraint and vice (which for Malthus included infanticide, murder, contraception and homosexuality) could check excessive population growth. See Malthusian catastrophe for more information.
Malthus favoured moral restraint (including late marriage and sexual abstinence) as a check on population growth. However, it is worth noting that Malthus proposed this only for the working and poor classes. Thus, the lower social classes took a great deal of responsibility for societal ills, according to his theory. In his work An Essay on the Principle of Population, he proposed the gradual abolition of poor laws. Essentially what this resulted in was the promotion of legislation which degenerated the conditions of the poor in England, lowering their population but effectively decreasing poverty.
Malthus himself noted that many people misrepresented his theory and took pains to point out that he did not just predict future catastrophe. He argued "...this constantly subsisting cause of periodical misery has existed ever since we have had any histories of mankind, does exist at present, and will for ever continue to exist, unless some decided change takes place in the physical constitution of our nature."
Thus, Malthus regarded his Principle of Population as an explanation of the past and the present situation of humanity as well as a prediction of our future.
Additionally, many have argued that Malthus did not fully recognise the human capacity to increase food supply. On this subject Malthus wrote "The main peculiarity which distinguishes man from other animals, is the means of his support, is the power which he possesses of very greatly increasing these means."
 Malthus' population predictions
Some claim that there is no specific prediction of Malthus regarding the future; that what some interpret as prediction was merely Malthus' illustration of the power of geometric (or exponential) population growth compared to the arithmetic growth of food production. Rather than a prediction of the future, the Essay is an evolutionary social theory. Eight major points regarding evolution are found in the 1798 Essay:
Population level is severely limited by subsistence
When the means of subsistence increases, population increases
Population pressures stimulate increases in productivity
Increases in productivity stimulate further population growth
Since this productivity can never keep up with the potential of population growth for long, there must be strong checks on population to keep it in line with carrying capacity.
It is through individual cost/benefit decisions regarding sex, work, and children that population and production are expanded or contracted.
Checks will come into operation as population exceeds subsistence level.
The nature of these checks will have significant effect on the rest of the sociocultural system—Malthus points specifically to misery, vice, and poverty..
It is this theory of Malthus — not some easily dismissed prediction — that has had huge influence on evolutionary theory in both biology (as acknowledged by Darwin and Wallace) and the social sciences (such as Spencer). Malthus's population theory has also profoundly affected the modern day ecological-evolutionary social theory of Gerhard Lenski and Marvin Harris. He can thus be regarded as a key contributing element of the canon of socioeconomic theory.
The influence of Malthus' theory of population was substantial. Michael H. Hart published a book called The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History in 1978 which placed Malthus at number 80 in this worldwide ranking. Ironically, Malthus did not make the top 100 Greatest Britons.
At Haileybury, Malthus developed a theory of demand-supply mismatches which he called gluts. Considered ridiculous at the time, his theory was a precursor to later theories about the Great Depression, and to the works of admirer and economist John Maynard Keynes.
Previously, high fertility had been considered an economic advantage, since it increased the number of workers available to the economy. Malthus, however, looked at fertility from a new perspective and convinced most economists that even though high fertility might increase the gross output, it tended to reduce output per capita. Malthus has been widely admired by, and has influenced, a number of other notable economists such as David Ricardo (whom Malthus knew personally) and Alfred Marshall.
A distinguished early convert was British Prime Minister, William Pitt The Younger. In the 1830s Malthus's writings strongly influenced Whig reforms which overturned Tory paternalism and brought in the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.
Concerns about Malthus's theory also helped promote the idea of a national population Census in the UK. Government official John Rickman was instrumental in the first modern British Census being conducted in 1801.
Malthus was proud to include amongst the earliest converts to his population theory the leading creationist and natural theologian, Archdeacon William Paley whose Natural Theology was first published in 1802. Both men regarded Malthus' Principle of Population as additional proof of the existence of a deity.
Ironically, given Malthus's own opposition to contraception, his work was a strong influence on Francis Place (1771–1854), whose Neo-Malthusian movement was the first to advocate contraception. Place published his Proofs on the Principle of Population in 1822.
Malthus’ idea of man’s “Struggle for existence” had decisive influence on Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Other scientists related this idea to plants and animals which helped to define a piece of the evolutionary puzzle. This struggle for existence of all creatures is the catalyst by which natural selection produces the “survival of the fittest”, a phrase coined by Herbert Spencer (Spiegel 282). Darwin, in his book The Origin of Species, called his theory an application of the doctrines of Malthus in an area without the complicating factor of human intelligence. Darwin, a life-long admirer of Malthus, referred to Malthus as "that great philosopher" (Letter to J.D. Hooker 5th June, 1860) and wrote in his notebook that "Malthus on Man should be studied". Wallace called Malthus's essay "...the most important book I read..." and considered it "the most interesting coincidence" that both he and Darwin were independently led to the theory of evolution through reading Malthus.
Thanks to Malthus, Darwin recognized the significance of competition between populations of the same species, as well as competition between species. Malthusian population thinking also explained how an incipient species could become a full-blown species in a very short time frame. The significance of Malthus's influence on Darwin was perhaps best highlighted by Robert M. Young (Darwin's Metaphor: Nature's Place in Victorian Culture, 1965), Professor of Psychotherapy and Psychoanalytic Studies at Sheffield University, England.
Founder of UNESCO, evolutionist and Humanist, Julian Huxley wrote of "The Crowded World" in his Evolutionary Humanism (1964), calling for a World Population Policy. Huxley was openly critical of Communist and Roman Catholic attitudes to birth control , population control and overpopulation. Today world organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund acknowledge that the debate over how many people the Earth can support effectively started with Malthus. Julian's brother, author Aldous Huxley, in his book Brave New World, refers to Malthusian theories on population. In Brave New World, the popular form of birth control is known as the Malthusian Belt. It is mentioned frequently by the females in the novel including the female protagonist Lenina Crowne.
Karl Marx's social determinism has its roots in Malthus’s theory as well. Marx however rejected Darwin’s biological determinism and instead embraced social determinism (in other words one’s decisions are made as a direct reaction to one’s circumstances). He saw social ills as caused by unjust or faulty institutions and social arrangements in large part caused by capitalism.
Malthus continues to have considerable influence to this day. One famous recent example of this is Paul R. Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb. Ehrlich predicted, in the late 1960s, that hundreds of millions would die from a coming overpopulation crisis in the 1970s, and that by 1980 life expectancy in the United States would be only 42 years. Other famous examples are the 1972 book The Limits to Growth from the self-styled Club of Rome, and the Global 2000 report to the then President of the United States of America Jimmy Carter. Science fiction author Isaac Asimov issued many appeals for population control reflecting the perspective articulated by people from Thomas Malthus through Paul R. Ehrlich.
More recently, a school of "neo-Malthusian" scholars has begun to link population and economics to a third variable, political change and political violence, and to show how the variables interact. In the early 1980s, James Goldstone linked population variables to the English Revolution and David Lempert devised a model of demographics, economics, and political change in the multi-ethnic country of Mauritius. Goldstone has since modeled other revolutions by looking at demographics and economics and Lempert has explained Stalin's purges and the Russian Revolution of 1917 in terms of demographic factors that drive political economy. Ted Robert Gurr has also modeled political violence using similar variables in several comparative cases. These approaches compete with explanations of events as a result of political ideology and suggest that political ideology is really a creation that follows demographic forces.
Malthus is widely regarded as the founder of modern demography. Malthus had proposed his Principle of Population as a universal natural law for all species, not just humans. Instead, today, his theory is widely regarded as only an approximate natural law of population dynamics for all species. This is because it can be proven that nothing can sustain exponential growth at a constant rate indefinitely.
Nonetheless, Malthus continues to openly inspire and influence even futuristic visions, such as those of K Eric Drexler relating to space advocacy and molecular nanotechnology. As Drexler put it in Engines of Creation: "In a sense, opening space will burst our limits to growth, since we know of no end to the universe. Nevertheless, Malthus was essentially right."
Malthus has also inspired retired physics professor, Albert Bartlett, to lecture over 1,500 times on "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy", which promotes sustainable living and explains the mathematics of overpopulation.
The Malthusian growth model now bears Malthus' name. The logistic function of Pierre Francois Verhulst results in the well known S-curve. Yet the logistic growth model favored by so many critics of the Malthusian growth model was created by Verhulst in 1838 only after reading Malthus's essay.
Malthus' arithmetic model of food supply is almost universally rejected as it can be clearly demonstrated that food supply has kept pace with population for the past two centuries (see below).
Malthus' position as professor at the British East India Company training college, which he held until his death, gave his theories considerable influence over Britain's administration of India through most of the 19th century, continuing even under the Raj after the company's dissolution in 1858. The most significant result of this influence was that the official response to India's periodic famines, which had been occurring every decade or two for centuries, became one of not entirely benign neglect: the famines were regarded as necessary to keep the "excess" population in check. In some cases even private efforts to transport food into famine-stricken areas were forbidden. However, this "Malthusian" policy did not take account of the enormous economic damage done by such famines through loss of human capital, collapse of credit structures and financial institutions, and the destruction of physical capital (especially in the form of livestock), social infrastructure and commercial relationships. The presumably unintended consequence was that production often did not recover to pre-famine levels in the affected areas for a decade or more after each disaster, well after the lost population had been regained. Malthusian theory also influenced British policies in Ireland during the 1840s, in which relief measures during the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849) were neglected and mass starvation was seen as a natural and inevitable consequence of the island's supposed over-population.
Although it is popularly assumed that Malthus' pessimistic views gave economics the nickname "the Dismal Science", the phrase was actually coined by the historian Thomas Carlyle in reference to laissez-faire economic theories in general.
William Godwin responded to Malthus' criticisms of his own arguments with On Population (1820).
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 industrialist Robert Owen , the essayist William Hazlitt (Malthus And The Liberties Of The Poor, 1807) and economists John Stuart Mill and Nassau William Senior (Two Lectures on Population , 1829), and moralist William Cobbett. Also of note was True Law of Population (1845) by politician Thomas Doubleday, an adherent of Cobbett's views.
The highpoint of opposition to Malthus' ideas came in the middle of the nineteenth century with the writings of Karl Marx (Capital, 1867) and Friedrich Engels (Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy, 1844), who argued that what Malthus saw as the problem of the pressure of population on the means of production was actually that of the pressure of the means of production on population. They thus viewed it in terms of their concept of the labor reserve army. In other words, the seeming excess of population that Malthus attributed to the seemingly innate disposition of the poor to reproduce beyond their means was actually a product of the very dynamic of capitalist economy.
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."
Evolutionists John Maynard Smith and Ronald Fisher were both critical of Malthus' hypothesis, though it was Fisher who referred to the growth rate r (used in equations such as the logistic function) as the Malthusian parameter. Fisher referred to "...a relic of creationist philosophy..." in observing the fecundity of nature and deducing (as Darwin did) that this therefore drove natural selection. Smith doubted that famine was the great leveler that Malthus insisted it was.
Economists of the 19th century were well aware that improvements in the division and specialization of labor, increased capital investment, and other factors had rendered Malthus' warnings ever more implausible. Even in the absence of any improvement in technology or increase of capital equipment, an increased supply of labor may have a synergistic effect on productivity that overcomes the law of diminishing returns. As American land economist Henry George observed with characteristic piquancy in dismissing Malthus, "Both the jayhawk and the man eat chickens; but the more jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens." Many 20th century economists, such as Julian Lincoln Simon, have also criticised Malthus's conclusions. They note that despite the predictions of Malthus and the Neo-Malthusians, massive geometric population growth in the 20th century has not resulted in a Malthusian catastrophe, largely due to the influence of technological advances (see below) and the expansion of the market economy, division of labor, and stock of capital goods. Such arguments are echoed by skeptical environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg. Malthus is thus regarded by some such as British physicist John Maddox as little more than a failed prophet of doom.
To date, the most sustained and trenchant critique of Malthusian doctrine and its influence on policy is from anthropologist Eric Ross. In The Malthus Factor: Population, Poverty, and Politics in Capitalist Development, Ross depicts Malthus' work as a pseudo-scientific rationalization of the social inequities produced by the Industrial Revolution, anti-immigration movements, the eugenics movement, the various international development movements..
Malthus argued that as wages increase within a country, the birthrate increases while the death rate decreases. His reasoning was that high incomes allowed people to have sufficient means to raise their children such as feeding and clothing them thus resulting in greater desire to have more children which increases the population. In addition, high incomes also allowed people to be able to afford proper medication to fight off potentially harmful diseases thus decreasing the death rate. As a result, wage increases caused population to grow as the birthrate increases and the death rate decreases. He further argued that as the supply of labor increases with the increased population growth at a constant labor demand, the wages earned would decrease eventually to subsistence where the birthrate is equal to the death rate resulting in no population growth. However, the world generally has experienced quite a different result than the one Malthus predicted with his theory. During the late 19th and early 20th century, the population increased as did the wages, with the spread of the industrial revolution. Malthus assumed a constant labor demand in his assessment of England and in doing so he ignored the effects of industrialization. As the world became more industrialized, the level of technology and production grew causing an increase in labor demand. Thus, even though labor supply increased so did the demand for labor. In fact, the labor demand arguably increased more than the supply, as measured by the historically observed increase in real wages globally with population growth.
Sacred to the memory of the Rev Thomas Robert Malthus, long known to the lettered world by his admirable writings on the social branches of political economy, particularly by his essay on population.
One of the best men and truest philosophers of any age or country, raised by native dignity of mind above the misrepresentation of the ignorant and the neglect of the great, he lived a serene and happy life devoted to the pursuit and communication of truth.
Supported by a calm but firm conviction of the usefulness of his labors.
Content with the approbation of the wise and good.
His writings will be a lasting monument of the extent and correctness of his understanding.
The spotless integrity of his principles, the equity and candour of his nature, his sweetness of temper, urbanity of manners and tenderness of heart, his benevolence and his piety are still dearer recollections of his family and friends.
Born Feb 14 1766 Died 29 Dec 1834.
 References in popular culture
Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol was supposed to represent the (perceived) ideas of Malthus, famously illustrated by his answer he gives to why he refuses to donate to the poor and destitute: "If they would rather die they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population".
The final spoken line of Urinetown, the Musical is "Hail Malthus," before the final sung line ("That was our show!") and the curtain call.
In Robert A Heinlein's novel, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, the character "Prof" says to Mannie: "This planet isn't crowded; it is just mismanaged...and the unkindest thing you can do for a hungry man is to give him food. 'Give.' Read Malthus. It is never safe to laugh at Dr. Malthus; he always has the last laugh."
In Aldous Huxley's novel, Brave New World, fertility is generally regarded as a nuisance, as cloning has enabled the society to maintain the population in precisely the way the controllers want. The women, therefore, must take excessive amounts of contraceptives, which they carry with them at all times in a Malthusian belt.
 See also
Cornucopian - the opposite of the Malthusian school of thought
List of scientific phenomena named after people
Food Race a related idea from Daniel Quinn
Limits to growth from the Club of Rome
List of Bubonic plague outbreaks
List of countries by birth rate
List of countries by death rate
List of epidemics
List of famines - incomplete
Lists of people by cause of death
List of wars
Malthus (in demonology)
Malthusian Growth Model
Social Darwinism - a related idea
Giovanni Botero - a sixteenth century thinker whose work foreshadows Malthus' ideas on population catastrophe
Urinetown - Urinetown, the Musical. The last line of the 2001 Tony-Award winning Broadway musical is: "Hail Malthus!" The musical tells the story of a society that cannot sustain itself because of a scarcity of water, due to overconsumption. The result is that the citizens have to pay to urinate.
 Further reading
The Social Contract Press Vol. 8, No. 3; Spring, 1998 Malthus Bicentenary issue devoted entirely to Malthus
Negative Population Growth organization collection of essays for Malthus Bicentenary
National Academics Forum, Australia collection of essays for Malthus Bicentenary Conference 1998
 Internal links
^ See Elwell (2001) for an extended exposition
Case, Karl E. & Fair, Ray C. (1999). Principles of Economics (5th ed.). Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-961905-4.
Elwell, Frank W. (2001), A Commentary on Malthus' 1798 Essay on Population as Social Theory, The Edwin Mellon Press.
Hollander, Samuel (1997). The Economics of Thomas Robert Malthus. University of Toronto Press.
James, Patricia (1979). Population Malthus : his Life and Times. Londen : Routledge and Kegan Paul
Peterson, William (1999). Malthus, Founder Of Modern Demography (2nd ed.) Transaction. ISBN 0-7658-0481-6.
John Maddox, The Doomsday Syndrome - An Assault on Pessimism (1972).
David Lempert, A Demographic-Economic Explanation of Political Stability: Mauritius as a Microcosm,Eastern Africa Economic Review, Vol. 3 No. 1, 1987; and Daily Life in a Crumbling Empire, Columbia University Press/ Eastern European Monographs, 1996.
Ernst Mayr What evolution is (2001). Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-60741-3
John Maynard Smith The Theory of Evolution (1958, 1966, 1975). Canto (Cambridge University Press) - (1993, 1995, 1997, 2000). ISBN 0-521-45128-0
Elliot Sober The Nature Of Selection (1984). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-76748-5. Also for the quote from Ronald Fisher.
Carl Zimmer Evolution - The Triumph of an Idea (2001). Harper Collins. ISBN 0-06-019906-7
Evans, L.T. (1998). Feeding the Ten Billion - Plants and Population Growth. Cambridge University Press. Paperback, 247 pages. Dedicated to Malthus by the author. ISBN 0-521-64685-5.
Spiegel, Henry William. 1992. The Growth of Economic Thought. Durham: Duke University Press
Eric B. Ross (1998) The Malthus factor : population, poverty, and politics in capitalist development. Zed Books, London. ISBN 1-85649-564-7
Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth. Moscow: URSS, 2006. ISBN 5-484-00414-4 .
Korotayev A., Malkov A., Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends. Moscow: URSS, 2006. ISBN 5-484-00559-0 .
Korotayev A. & Khaltourina D. Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Secular Cycles and Millennial Trends in Africa. Moscow: URSS, 2006. ISBN 5-484-00560-4 .
 External links
EconLib-1798: An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1st edition, 1798. Library of Economics and Liberty. Free online, full-text searchable.
EconLib-1826: An Essay on the Principle of Population, 6th edition, 1826. Library of Economics and Liberty. Free online, full-text searchable. Malthus published a major revision to his first edition--his second edition--in 1803. His 6th edition, published 1826, and revising his various 2nd-5th editions, became his widely cited 6th and final revision.
Works by Thomas Robert Malthus at Project Gutenberg
Malthus profile and extensive links
Theories of Overpopulation - refer section entitled Criticism of the Malthusian Theory. Catholic Encyclopedia website
More Food for More People But Not For All, and Not Forever United Nations Population Fund website
Natural Theology; or, Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity by William Paley (1802). 12th edition (1809) Text published by University of Michigan (Humanities Text Initiative)
The Feast of Malthus by Garrett Hardin in The Social Contract (1998)
Online copies of several of Malthus' works
Malthus biography by Nigel Malthus, a direct descendant of Malthus' brother Sydenham Malthus
The International Society of Malthus
Publications of the United Nations Population Division
An Essay on the Principle of Population by Malthus
Thomas Malthus at UCMP
The Massive Movement to Marginalise the Modern Malthusian Message article by Professor Albert Bartlett
Online chapter MALTHUS AND THE EVOLUTIONISTS:THE COMMON CONTEXT OF BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL THEORY from Darwin's Metaphor: Nature's Place in Victorian Culture by Professor Robert M. Young (1985, 1988, 1994). Cambridge University Press.
MALTHUS ON MAN - IN ANIMALS NO MORAL RESTRAINT article about Malthus' influence on Darwin, by Professor Robert M. Young
A Better Earth
Exponentialist website dedicated to Malthus
 T. Robert Malthus's Homepage