Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population
Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in an arithmetical ratio. A slight acquaintance with numbers will show the immensity of the first power in comparison of the second.
By the law of our nature which makes food necessary to the life of man, the effects of these two unequal powers must be kept equal. This implies a strong and constantly operating check on population from the difficulty of subsistence. This difficulty must fall somewhere and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind 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.
An Essay on the Principle of Population and Other Writings
Under this head, therefore, may be enumerated all unwholesome occupations, severe labour and exposure to the seasons, extreme poverty, bad nursing of children, great towns, excesses of all kinds, the whole train of common diseases and epidemics, wars, plague, and famine. From his humane concern for the sufferings caused by overpopulation arose his anxiety that the poor-laws should not lead to a relaxation of moral restraint and large families.
By moral restraint he meant delayed marriage and sexual abstinence for adults until they were economically able to support their children. While it was generally supposed that Malthus was in favour of contraception, in fact as an Anglican minister he disapproved of it. In he was one of the cofounders of the Royal Statistical Society.
Honours also came to him from France and Germany. The family remained at Haileybury for the remainder of his life. He was buried in Bath Abbey. His old friend from Cambridge days, Bishop Otter, wrote his epitaph:.
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One of the best men and truest philosophers of any age or country, raised by native dignity of mind above the misrepresentations of the ignorant and the neglect of the great, he lived a serene and happy life. Devoted to the pursuit and communication of truth, supported by a calm but firm conviction of the usefulness of his labors, content with the approbation of the wise and good, his writings will be a lasting monument of the extent and correctness of his understanding.
The spotless integrity of his principles, the equity and candour of his nature, his sweetness of temper, urbanity of manners, and tenderness of heart, his benevolence and his piety, are the still dearer recollections of his family and friends. The result of this would be the formation of a new species. Here, then, I had at last got a theory by which to work.
Today, years after Malthus first published his ideas, his message remains prophetic. Epidemics may be less lethal and crops more abundant, but populations are still outstripping food production in many parts of the world, and wars remain as destructive as ever. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
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An Essay On The Principle Of Population And Other Writings
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