This essay deals with Thomas Malthus and the first two chapters of his “Essay on the Principle of Population”. At first I will provide a short biographical note on Malthus and I will also mention his main achievements. Then, a summary of Malthus' main ideas of the first two chapters of mentioned work follows. Afterward, the essay concludes with a personal note.
2. A short biography
Thomas Robert Malthus was born in 1766 (course textbook, n. d.) in Surrey, England, as the sixth son of a wealthy intellectual family and he died in 1834 (Weikard, n. d.).
He was mainly concerned with population growth and poverty in the English society of his time. It was an answer to the precarious human situation back then. Malthus identified that the ratio of population growth differs from the ratio of growth of food supply. He also explained two kinds of checks on population: preventive and positive checks (course textbook, n. d.).
Malthus’ main achievement is his population theory. In 1798 he published his most important work, namely the “Essay on the Principle of Population”. Another, revised, edition on the topic was launched in 1803 (course textbook, n. d.). He was also concerned with the concept of rent (course textbook, n. d.). Ricardo’s theory of growth is largely based on Malthus’ population theory (Weikard, n. d.).
3. Summary of the “Essay on the principle of population”
In his text, Malthus provides an explanation for the population growth of human societies. He explains why population growth occurs, which behaviour distinguishes human beings from animals and which remedies exist concerning population growth.
Malthus begins his argument mentioning that all living creatures, no matter which, strive to “[...] increase beyond the nourishment prepared for it [...]” (Malthus, p. 2). According to him, there is a contradiction: while the earth provides countless seeds for procreation, the food available is limited. This also puts a limit on the amount of procreation possible, but however, all species strive to surpass these limitations (Malthus, p. 2). In this aspect, human beings are not any different from plants or animals, but in contrast to them they do not only act out of instinct. Additionally, they use their reasoning to determine whether they will be able to care sufficiently for their children (Malthus, p. 2).
Malthus states that there are certain checks on population and points out that there is no society without any check applied. An unchecked population increases in a geometrical ratio, what means that it doubles itself every twenty-five years. Instead, the available food does not increase geometrically, but gradually diminishes, because of the limited amount of fertile land. In contrast to the population, the agricultural production, under favourable circumstances, is able to only increase in an arithmetical ratio (Malthus, p. 6). A gap between population growth and the amount of food available rises. As a result, to...