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Thomas Robert Malthus

Economic Thinkers Assignment

Shirley Wong

on 24 February 2011

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Transcript of Thomas Robert Malthus

An Essay on the Principle of Population
One of Malthus' main contributions - first published anonymously
Predicted population increases geometrically; food supply increases arithmetically
Used the law of diminishing returns
Preventive and positive checks because Earth could not support the growing population 1798 1800 An investigation of the Cause of the Present High Price of Provisions Overview of Theory When resources are scarce, governments raise the price of necessities
Governments then provide parish allowances in proportion to the price change, which is a component of previously established "Poor Laws"
Transfers purchasing power to those most in need in order to counteract the scarcity
Increase in food prices reduce level of real wages, leading to increased mortality and falling fertility thus slowing of population - self regulation/homeostatic system
Low wages curb improvement of standard of living which discourages family units from producing children Significant Events and Influences 1348 - Black Death in England led to Poor Laws development
1785 - Industrial Revolution
1796 - Discovery of vaccination
1797 - Napoleonic invasions around Europe
1815 - England implements Corn Laws
1820 - Epidemics in the New World
1805 to 1824 - Development of Watt engine, steam boat, railway, gas, steamship, iron, coal 1820 Malthus expresses his views against Say's Law
States the risks when supply exceeds demand, otherwise a situation known as "general glut"
Leads to general recession/depression
Public works and private luxury investment are possible solutions towards "effectual demand"
Effectual demand - a level of demand where a nation can bring about full employment The Principles of Political Economy Interpretations At the time, most regarded high fertility as economic advantage; Malthus recognized per capita impact
Most in Europe thought improvement in society virtually limitless; Malthus saw dangers to unchecked population growth
Malthus failed to predict Green Revolution, which increased food production rate beyond Malthus' theories
Also failed to recognize urbanization and negative effect on population to point where some nations' population are in decline
Julian Simons challenged theory citing existence of new knowledge and economic freedom Interpretations Malthus adapted his theories throughout his liftime, especially in the light of criticism and changing times
Malthus supported the notion of welfare, which is widely accepted in today's society Theories Put Into Practice Interpretations John Meynard Keynes adopted this theory
Malthus foreshadowed the Great Depression
Say's Law can be supported through the notion that supply of one product creates demand for other products Biography Malthus lived from February 14, 1766 - December 29, 1834
Second of 8 children
One of his greatest critics - William Godwin
Was educated at home, then Cambridge
An Anglican clergyman, believed that the problem of population and environmental resistance was divinely imposed
"First professional economist" - named professor of history and political economy at East India College at Haileybury
Between 1798 and 1826 Malthus published six editions of his famous treatise, An Essay on the Principle of Population Thomas Robert Malthus 1766 - 1834 Thank you for listening! India's family planning
Club of Rome - Limits to Population Thesis
China's One-Child Policy Population Theory Parish Allowances supported by Malthus - similar idea of welfare today Principles of Political Economy Free market economy propagates consumer sovereignty
Prevalent economic belief today states that a healthy economy involves much spending To think about... What are the effects of China's one-child policy?
Full transcript