Malthus, Thomas Robert

Malthus, Thomas Robert
   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 Cambridge. From 1805, Malthus taught at the East India Company ’s college at Haileybury. Malthus first published his Essay on the Principle of Population in 1798, although he subsequently revised it extensively. The central argument of the essay was that while population, independent of other variables, would grow geometrically, food supply could only grow arithmetically. Population therefore tended, extraneous factors to one side, to outgrow food supply. Using the moral ideas of his time, however, Malthus saw various restraints on population growth, including misery, vice, and moral restraint. This grim arithmetic led to economics being baptized “the dismal science.”
   The idea that a growing population competed for limited resources inspired Charles Darwin with his idea of the survival of the fittest. Often remembered almost exclusively as “Population Malthus,” Malthus was nonetheless credited by Keynes with having stressed the importance of effective demand, as against the emphasis on supply, and assumption that supply would create demand, characteristic of other classical political economists. In domestic policy, and particularly from the point of view of poor relief - a controversial topic at the time - Malthus’s doctrines on population tended to reinforce the notion that the poverty and suffering of a large proportion of the population was a part of the natural order of things, while being at the same time avoidable through moral prudence. From an imperial point of view, Malthus served to establish in the popular mind the idea that the food supplies available on a small and crowded island were inherently limited. This implied that the Corn Laws, as restrictions on imports, exacerbated an already parlous situation. It implied secondly that substantial emigration was both necessary and beneficial to the country and to the emigrant. The desirability of settlement colonies became in the nineteenth century an idea accepted across the political spectrum.
   See also <>; <>.
    Peterson, William. Malthus. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979;
    Smith, Kenneth. The Malthusian Controversy. London: Routledge & Paul, 1951;
    Winch, Donald. Malthus. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987.

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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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 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 ,… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • 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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