Home ] Up ] Contents Page ] Search Page ] Feedback Page ] Sumbit a Site ]

Buy This Site!



Web-Site Visitor Statistics

Reader Offers

Coming Soon 



The works of Malthus can be described as a re-appraisal of Adam Smiths work. His main writings were enshrined in ‘Definitions in Political Economy’. Wars across Europe, declining wages, unemployment, lack of domestic UK produce brought about further debates as to whether the a global free market was the best course for long term prosperity.

Malthus was born into a rich family, he was well educated and often described a being a person who talked more than actually did. The works of Malthus came to prominence at the turn of the 1800’s when the UK government under Pitt decided to embark on giving larger poor families assistance with living costs. It was in this period that Malthus wrote his works on population.

The theory of population by Malthus was written at a time when it was felt that the greater the domestic population was, the greater the nation would prosper as a result for increasing demand for agricultural and other produce consumption. This was thought to result in more people working, to generate the products for consumption and buying the produce, thereby the entire nation prospering.

What Malthus suggested was, as the global population keeps growing and growing, there would in fact be a point where, the human race would more people than it could actually feed. This meant that there would be nations which could not prosper as a result of increasing population numbers and hence become poverty stricken and subject to famine.

Malthus further argued that as nation grows in size so does the availability of labour, which further results in poverty as vast amounts of available labour drives down the wages that people can receive, thereby lending to the belief in the increased poverty.

Malthus did argue the need for population checks, but these were ignored during his time, as we were talking about a period in history where Christian beliefs were highly regarded, the logic of mass population control never took hold.

Modern day China is probably the best example of a nation realising the works of Malthus in the sense that strict population control is seen as the way to achieve economic prosperity. Other modern day examples would be the third world African nations, which as result of increasing war, disruption to food chain and famines have begun to focus on population control to bring about economic stability.

Although we can state that Malthus underestimated the pace at which technology could be used to make advances in agricultural output, his works on the law of population, did trigger interesting debates for centuries tome. Even today in the twenty-first century, we still have rich and poor nations, nations with plentiful and hardly any food. His words may have laughable but they have stood the test of time.

Other areas discussed by Malthus have been ridiculed as crazy by most observers, but perhaps his most useful opinion offered in addition to his law of population. Was in his belief that the poor could be helped by being offered jobs created by the government, rather than simply remaining unemployed in times when there was no jobs in manufacturing.


  • As the world grows so does the need to feed the global population. There becomes a point at which a nation cannot prosper as a large population requires large food production. 
  • High available labour = Low real wages = Increased poverty. Commonly known as the ‘Mathusian population trap’
  • The government helps the poor by offering them jobs in public service organisations.

Back To Economics Through Time Main Menu