An Essay on the Principle of Population

Front Cover
Cosimo, Inc., Jan 1, 2013 - Social Science - 324 pages
0 Reviews
Reviews aren't verified, but Google checks for and removes fake content when it's identified
Around 1796, Mr. Malthus, an English gentleman, had finished reading a book that confidently predicted human life would continue to grow richer, more comfortable and more secure, and that nothing could stop the march of progress. He discussed this theme with his son, Thomas, and Thomas ardently disagreed with both his father and the book he had been reading, along with the entire idea of unending human progress. Mr. Malthus suggested that he write down his objections so that they could discuss them point-by-point. Not long after, Thomas returned with a rather long essay. His father was so impressed that he urged his son to have it published. And so, in 1798, appeared An Essay on Population, by British political economist and demographer THOMAS ROBERT MALTHUS (1766-1834). Though it was attacked at the time and ridiculed for many years afterward, it has remained one of the most influential works in the English language on the general checks and balances of the world's population and its necessary control. This is a replica of the 1826 sixth edition. Volume 1 includes: Book I: "Of the Checks to the Population in the Less Civilised Parts of the World and in Past Times" and Book II: "Of the Checks to the Population in the Different States of Modern Europe."

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Of the Checks to Population in Different Parts
Of the Checks to Population in the Turkish Dominions
Of the Checks to Population in China and Japan
Of the Checks to Population among the Greeks
Of the Checks to Population among the Romans
Of the Checks to Population in Switzerland
VI Of the Checks to Population in France
Op the Checks to Population in Francscontinued
Of the Checks to Population in England
Of the Checks to Population in Englandcontinued
Of the Checks to Population in Scotland and Ireland
On the Frbitfulness of Marriages
Effects of Epidemics on Registers of Births Deaths and Marhiaoes

Of the Checks to Population in Sweden
HI Of the Checks to Population in Russia
Of the Checks to Population in the Middle Parts
General Deductions from the Preceding View of Society

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 19 - Population invariably increases where the means of subsistence increase, unless prevented by some very powerful and obvious checks. 3. These checks, and the checks which repress the superior power of population, and keep its effects on a level with the means of subsistence, are all resolvable into moral restraint, vice, and misery.
Page 6 - Through the animal and vegetable kingdoms Nature has scattered the seeds of life abroad with the most profuse and liberal hand; but has been comparatively sparing in the room and the nourishment necessary to rear them, The germs of existence contained in this earth, if they could freely develop themselves, would fill millions of worlds in the course of a few thousand years.
Page 6 - But as, by that law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, population can never actually increase beyond the lowest nourishment capable of supporting it, a strong check on population, from the difficulty of acquiring food, must be constantly in operation.
Page 5 - I allude, is the constant tendency in all animated life to increase beyond the nourishment prepared for it.
Page 17 - It very rarely happens that the nominal price of labour universally falls; but we well know that it frequently remains the same while the nominal price of provisions has been gradually rising. This, indeed, will generally be the case if the increase of manufactures and commerce be sufficient to employ the new labourers that are thrown into the market, and to prevent the increased supply from lowering the money-price.
Page 11 - ... the human species would increase as the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and subsistence as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. In two centuries the population would be to the means of subsistence as 256 to 9; in three centuries as 4096 to 13, and in two thousand years the difference would be almost incalculable.
Page 16 - ... turn up fresh soil, and to manure and improve more completely what is already in tillage...
Page 7 - Consequently in no state that we have yet known, has the power of population been left to exert itself with perfect freedom. Whether the law of marriage be instituted or not, the dictate of nature and virtue seems to be an early attachment to one woman...

About the author (2013)

Thomas Robert Malthus was born to a wealthy family near Surrey, England. His father, the eccentric Daniel Malthus, was friends with both David Hume and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Malthus was educated privately at home and, at age 13, began two years of study in residence with Richard Graves, a Protestant minister near Bath. He excelled in history, classics, and fighting. In a letter to Daniel Malthus on the progress of his son, Graves stated that young Thomas "loves fighting for fighting's sake, and delights in bruising. . . ." In 1783, Malthus enrolled in a religious academy for Protestant dissenters; when it failed the same year, he became the private student of a radical Unitarian minister. At age 18, he enrolled at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics and the classics. He graduated from Cambridge in 1788 and became an ordained minister in the Church of England in 1791. Malthus and his father frequently discussed the issues of the day. When the elder Malthus became fascinated with the utopian philosophy of the popular William Godwin, which preached a vision of peace, prosperity, and equality for all, the younger Malthus expressed his doubts in a manuscript intended only for his father. His father suggested, however, that it be published and so "An Essay on the Principle of Population As It Affects the Future Improvement of Society" appeared in 1798. The book was an instant success. Well written, it argued that population tended to grow at a geometric (exponential) rate, whereas the resources needed to support the population would only grow at an arithmetic (linear) rate. Eventually, society would not have the resources to support its population, and the result would be misery, poverty, and a subsistence standard of living for the masses. "An Essay on the Principle of Population" thrust Malthus into the public eye and dealt such a lethal blow to utopian visions that economics was soon called "the dismal science." In 1805, Malthus became the first person in England to receive the title of political economist when he was appointed professor of history and political economy at the East India College. In 1811, he met David Ricardo, and the two soon became lifelong friends and professional rivals. In 1820, Malthus published "Principles of Political Economy," a sometimes obscure but far-reaching treatment of economics that advocated a form of national income accounting, made advances in the theory of rent, and extended the analysis of supply and demand. Today, Malthus is more remembered for his views on population than for his views on economics. Even so, his other achievements have not gone unnoticed. John Maynard Keynes paid the ultimate tribute when he wrote:"If only Malthus, instead of Ricardo, had been the parent stem from which nineteenth-century economics proceeded, what a much wiser and richer place the world would be today!

Bibliographic information