Malthus and the obstacles to geometric growth (1798)

  • Nicolas Bacaër


In 1798 Malthus published An Essay on the Principle of Population, in which he argued that the supply of food could not follow for a long period of time the natural tendency of human populations to grow exponentially. If the population remained relatively constant, this was because a great part of mankind was suffering from food shortage. Malthus saw the “principle of population” as an argument against the writings of Godwin and Condorcet, which emphasized progress in human societies. Malthus’ essay influenced the theory of evolution of Darwin and Wallace and was criticized by Marx, but was put into practice with the Chinese one-child policy.


Eighteenth Century French Revolution Human Happiness Ulation Growth Malthusian Parameter 
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Further reading

  1. 1.
    Condorcet: Esquisse d’un tableau historique des progrès de l’esprit humain. Agasse, Paris (1794). Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Darwin, C.: On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. John Murray, London (1859). Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Godwin, W.: An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. Robinson, London (1793). Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Malthus, T.R.: An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1st edn. London (1798).
  5. 5.
    Marx, K.: Capital, A Critical Analysis of Capitalist Production, vol. 1. London (1887).
  6. 6.
    Simpkins, D.M.: Malthus, Thomas Robert. In: Gillespie, C.C. (ed.) Dictionary of Scientific Biography, vol. 9, pp. 67–71. Scribner, New York (1974) Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.IRD (Institut de Recherche pour le Développement)BondyFrance

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