An Essay on the Principle of Population

An Essay on the Principle of Population

Written by:
Thomas Maltus
Narrated by:
Ethan Williams
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Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
March 2023
5 hours 7 minutes
Thomas Malthus, an English economist and cleric, published his influential work 'An Essay on the Principle of Population' in 1798. The book introduced the idea that population growth would outstrip resources in the long run, leading to catastrophic consequences such as famine, disease, and war.

Malthus argued that population growth was exponential, while resources grew at a much slower arithmetic rate. This meant that over time, the population would inevitably outstrip the ability of the land to produce food, leading to a 'positive check' on population growth in the form of famine, disease, or war.

Malthus also identified a 'preventative check' on population growth, which he saw as the moral restraint of individuals to delay marriage and childbirth until they could support a family. However, he believed that this restraint would only be effective for the wealthy and educated classes, while the poor would continue to have large families out of necessity.

Malthus's ideas were controversial at the time, as they challenged the prevailing belief in progress and the idea that human ingenuity and technological advances could overcome any resource constraints. However, his ideas gained traction in the 19th century as Europe experienced a series of famines and population pressures, and his work influenced later economists such as David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill.

Critics of Malthus have argued that his predictions did not come to pass, as the world has experienced significant improvements in food production and living standards over the last two centuries. However, Malthus's ideas continue to influence debates on population growth, resource constraints, and environmental sustainability.
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