The Malthusian Theory of Population is the theory of exponential population growth and arithmetic food supply growth. The theory was proposed by Thomas Robert Malthus. He believed that a balance between population growth and food supply can be established through preventive and positive checks.
Major Elements of the Malthusian Theory
Population and Food Supply
The Malthusian theory explained that the population grows in a geometrical fashion.
The population would double in 25 years at this rate. However, the food supply grows in an arithmetic progression. Food supply increases at a slower rate than the population. That is, the food supply will be limited in a few years. The shortage of food supply indicates an increasing population.
Checks on Population
When the rise in population is greater than the food supply, there is a condition of disequilibrium. As a result, people will not get enough food even for survival. People will die due to lack of food supply. People will be subjected to wars, epidemics, famines, starvation, and other natural calamities which are named as positive checks by Malthus. On the contrary, there are man-made checks known as preventive checks.
Nature has its own ways of keeping a check on the increasing population. It brings the population level to the level of the available food supply. The positive checks include famines, earthquakes, flood, epidemics, wars, etc. When humans fail to control excessive population growth, nature plays its role.
The preventive measures such as late marriage, self-control, simple living, help to balance the population growth and food supply. This measure can not only check the population growth but can also prevent the catastrophic effects of the positive checks.
Also read: Organisms and Population Attributes
Criticism of Malthusian Theory of Population
The Malthusian theory was criticised based on the following observations:
In western Europe, the population was rising at a rapid rate. At the same time, the food supply had also increased due to technological developments.
Many times, food production had increased more than the population. For eg., 2% of the total population is working in the agricultural sector in the US. Still, the total GDP is more than 14 trillion dollars.
Malthus theory stated that one of the reasons for limited food supply is non-availability of land. However, the amount of food supply in various countries has increased due to increased globalization.
The calculations for the geometric growth of population and arithmetic growth of population were not provided by Malthus. It was stated that the growth rates are not consistent with Malthus’ theory.
Also read: Population Control
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Q.1. What is the Malthusian Theory of Population?
A.1. Malthus examined the relationship between population growth and resources in one of his works. He then proposed the Malthusian theory of population where he said that the population grows exponentially and the food supply grows arithmetically and that a balance between the two can be established through positive and preventive checks.
Q.2. What is the importance of Malthusian theory?
A.2. The Malthusian theory explained that the human population grows more rapidly than the food supply until famines, war or disease reduces the population. He believed that the human population has risen over the past three centuries.
Q.3. What do you understand by Malthusian trap theory?
A.3. It is a condition where the population will stop growing due to the shortage of food supply.
Q.4. What is a positive check on the population?
A.4. The positive check on the growth of human population includes war, disease, famines. These checks were active in nature.
Q.5. How rapidly is the human population growing?
A.5. The human population is growing at an alarming rate. It is believed that the population might increase to 9.9 billion by 2050.
Q.6. What is the Neo-Malthusian theory?
A.6. Neo Malthusian is the advent of population control programmes to ensure resources for current and future populations.
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