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Thomas Robert Malthus
Transcript of Thomas Robert Malthus
-born in an upper-middle-class family
-went to Jesus College at Cambridge University
-Master of Arts Degree
-In 1805 he became a Professor of History and Political Economy
-married his cousin Harriet, and had three children
-British economist and demographer
-can be identified as the first professional economist
-interested in everything related to population
Population and food production
During 1796, Malthus put forth his ideas in the six editions of his famous writings 'An Essay on the Principle of Population'. It was in the course of his endless intellectual debates with his father over the "perfectibility of society" that Malthus's decided to set his ideas down on paper. It was eventually published as a pamphlet known as the Essay on Population (1798).
Malthus had two assumptions: "that food is necessary to the existence of man" and "that the passion between the sexes is necessary, and will remain nearly in its present state." Malthus's hypothesis implied that actual population always has a tendency to push above the food supply. This had led Malthus to base his ideas about population and food production on what he thought were two self-evident premises. The first is that food is necessary to sustain human life. The second premise is that human sexual instinct is constant. Malthus built an argument that the population, if left unchecked, would double every 25 years. This doubling effect meant that the population grew a geometrical progression. Food production, on the other hand, can only grow in an arithmetical progression.
Theory of Rent
In 1815, Malthus came up with the theory of rent. He believed rent is not a cost of production and is simply a deduction from the surplus.
Rent is due to three facts:
agricultural production yields a surplus
the wage-fertility dynamics guarantee that the price of corn would remain steadily above its cost of production
that fertile land is scarce.
Therefore, Rent is price determined, not price determining
Contribution to Corn Laws
•Malthus believed that economic crises were characterized by a general excess supply caused by insufficient consumption
•His defense of the Corn Laws rested partly on the need for landlord consumption to "make up" for shortfalls in demand and therefore stop crisis.
Everything that occurred in Britain based on the economy is what Malthus was influenced by. First off, industrial revolution began where a lot of farmers left their homes to go and live in the city. The city became immensely populated and crowded, along with unsanitary living conditions. The farmers that left hoped to find jobs in major factories so that they could support their families with minimal wages. Since many people were moving all at the same time, jobs became hard to find. Secondly, an expensive and prolonged war began against Napoleon Bonaparte’s France during Malthus’s time period. This was evidently good because it provided a lot of jobs for the economy but was bad because the price on consumer goods also went up. But that’s not all that occurred during these times. A population boom and a crop yield also happened which brought a crisis to Britain. Britain would soon not be able to feed its people even with its rich farmlands.
Impact and Criticisms
-an influence on Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace, who are the co-founders of the modern evolutionary theory
-Darwin studied Malthus work which later helped him come up with theories of his own
-extreme personal criticism
-people would accuse him for being hypocritical by either saying he had no children or had too many
Criticized for not comprehending that science and upcoming technology could contradict the food supply theory. Factors such as increasing agriculture, additional children in the family to help with labour and the family sizes continuing to decline go against Malthus’ population theory.
As population increase over time, there are less available recourses to accommodate everyone