Public Policy

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


Malthus like all classical liberals looked in the first instance to self-stabilising mechanisms and the free market to solve the economic problems of supply and demand. The State should ensure a stable framework of law and order to prevent the reappearance of Hobbes’s state of war. Bad governments in the past had been predatory and insensitive, open to the special pleading of interest groups that seek to redistribute the national wealth when they ought to increase it. The inference is a constitution reflecting the damage-containing rule of minimax. In spite of that Malthus called for pragmatic intervention in forms such as the Corn Laws to exclude cheap imports and the legalisation of trades unions. Education for citizenship was also important to inculcate in the masses a resistance to demagogues and revolutionaries.


Public policy Free market Supply and demand Economic governance 


By T. R. Malthus

  1. (1798 [1970]). Essay on the Principle of Population, as It affects the Future Improvement of Society, with Remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Condorcet, and Other Writers (abbreviated as FE), ed. by A. Flew. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  2. (1803 et seq. [1989]). An Essay on the Principle of Population: Or a View of Its Past and Present Effects on Human Happiness, with an Inquiry into Our Prospects Respecting the Removal of the Evils Which It Occasions (2nd edition, 1803; further editions in 1806, 1807, 1817, 1826) (abbreviated as SE I and SE II), 2 vols., ed. by P. James. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. (1807). A Letter to Samuel Whitbread, Esq, M.P., on His Proposed Bill for the Amendment of the Poor Laws (abbreviated as LW), reprinted in The Works of Thomas Robert Malthus, ed. by E. A. Wrigley and D. Souden. London: Pickering and Chatto, 4, 3–19.Google Scholar
  4. (1809 [1963]). Review of Thomas Newenham’s A View of the Natural, Political and Commercial Circumstances of Ireland, Edinburgh Review, 27, 1809, reprinted in Occasional Papers of T.R. Malthus, ed. by B. Semmel. New York: Bert Franklin, 52–71.Google Scholar
  5. (1820 [1989]). The Principles of Political Economy (abbreviated as PR), ed. by J. Pullen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. (1823 [1986]). The Measure of Value Stated and Illustrated, with an Application of It to the Alterations in the Value of the English Currency Since 1790, reprinted in The Works of Thomas Robert Malthus, ed. by E. A. Wrigley and D. Souden. London: Pickering and Chatto, 7, 179–221.Google Scholar
  7. (1824). Evidence to the Select Committee on Artizans and Machinery (Sixth Report), in Parliamentary Papers. London: House of Commons, 5, 598–601.Google Scholar
  8. (1827). Evidence to the Select Committee on Emigration (Third Report), in Parliamentary Papers. London: House of Commons, 5, 311–327.Google Scholar
  9. (1830). A Summary View of the Principle of Population (abbreviated as SV), in FE, supra.Google Scholar

Secondary Literature

  1. Bonar, J. (1885 [1924]). Malthus and His Work (2nd ed.). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  2. Buchanan, J. M., & Tullock, G. (1962). The Calculus of Consent. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Hayek, F. (1988). The Fatal Conceit. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Olson, M. (1982). The Rise and Decline of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Olson, M. (2000). Power and Prosperity: Outgrowing Communist and Capitalist Dictatorships. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Ricardo, D. (1951–1955). The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo (abbreviated as Ricardo) (P. Sraffa with M. Dobb, Eds., 11 vols.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Google Scholar
  7. Smith, A. (1759 [1966]). The Theory of Moral Sentiments. London: Augustus M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  8. Smith, A. (1776 [1961]). The Wealth of Nations (E. Cannan, Ed., 2 vols.). London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  9. Tawney, R. H. (1966). The Radical Tradition (R. Hinden, Ed.). London: Penguin Books.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

Personalised recommendations