The Law of Population

  • David ReismanEmail author
Part of the Great Thinkers in Economics book series (GTE)


Malthus is best known for his Essay on Population. The first edition was published in 1798 and the last (the sixth) in 1826. Malthus’s theory is built around the contention that the population increases in a geometrical ratio but the supply of subsistence only in an arithmetical ratio. The mismatch results in positive checks like famine and disease if the disaster is not first allayed by preventive checks such as later marriage. The chapter explores Malthus’s view that moral restraint could, because of economic growth and social upgrading, keep the headcount in line with the increasing capacity of the land to provide food. It also explains Malthus’s cautious support for emigration as a stopgap in the period before the outflow was corrected by natural increase.


Optimum population Moral restraint Employment Emigration 


By T. R. Malthus

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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