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Transcript of Thomas Malthus
population vs food theory Thomas Robert Malthus
Born:14 February 1766
Died:29 December 1834 He believed: Population growth is dependent on the current population: the more people there are at any given time, the more children will be born, and the population will grow faster and faster every year. This is called "exponential growth". But food production is limited by available land, water for irrigation, and so on. These things are finite. At best food production might increase by the same amount every year. This is called "arithmetic growth". But eventually even that rate of growth will be impossible to maintain, as available land, water, and so on are used up, and increases in food production must start to taper off. Thus, with the number of people growing faster and faster, and food production growing slower and slower, sooner or later it will simply be impossible to feed all the people, and there will be mass starvation. He based his ideas on Marx's view Malthus had laid out a decimating and dark view of the future of humanity. He showed how populations when unchecked grow exponentially ( 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, etc.)
while food supplies grow arithmetically (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, etc.). The differences in growth would result in utter starvation and death. Malthus saw only two mechanisms which would curtail the exponential population boom. One was positive checks, which increased deaths, such as disease, war, slavery, child murder, and starvation. The second was preventative checks, which hampered births through later marriages, decreasing family size, and exercising "moral constraint." Thomas Malthus also advocated welfare reform. Recent Poor Laws had provided a system of welfare that provided an increased amount of money depending on the number of children in a family. Malthus argued that this only encouraged the poor to give birth to more children as they would have no fear that increased numbers of offspring would make eating any more difficult. Increased numbers of poor workers would reduce labor costs and ultimately make the poor even poorer. He also stated that if the government or an agency were to provide a certain amount of money to every poor person, prices would simply rise and the value of money would change. As well, since population increases faster than production, the supply would essentially be stagnant or dropping so the demand would increase and so would price. Nonetheless, he suggested that capitalism was the only economic system that could function. Malthus concluded that unless family size was regulated, man's misery of famine would become globally epidemic and eventually consume Man. Malthus' view that poverty and famine were natural outcomes of population growth and food supply was not popular among social reformers who believed that with proper social structures, all ills of man could be eradicated.
When labor demand remains constant, while population increases, wages will eventually fall, until subsistence is reached. birthrate = death rate = population will level off He was wrong -> during 19th and 20th century industrialization caused an increase in wages, while population did not grow. Developed countries only grew slightly due to immigration. In undeveloped countries population grew exponentially, because families had more children to support the family. People realized that producing more offspring than can survive establishes a competitive environment among siblings, and that the variation among siblings would produce some individuals with a slightly greater chance of survival. He blamed this decline on three elements: The overproduction of young; the inability of resources to keep up with the rising human population; and the irresponsibility of the lower classes