Malthus and His Discontents – Population and Policy

In 1798 Thomas Malthus postulated in his essay on population growth that given an abundance of food, population would grow until food supplies collapsed, causing a decline in fertility. He observed that this pattern had held true for the masses of the underclass for centuries in England, keeping average per capita income stagnant. All this changed around 1800, however, as the Industrial Revolution took hold and the British people became wealthier. This wealth allowed them to import food, and advances in agricultural productivity and the spread of industrialization throughout the world saw global population rise into the billions over the next two centuries. However, as environmental degradation and limits on space and water increasingly constrain expansion and birth rates around the world, the theories of Malthus, once regarded as outdated, now serve to remind us that however we may master our surroundings, we will always be bounded by them.

— Timeline —

– 1750-1800 – annual world population growth rate declines from 0.6% to 0.4%, population reaches 0.9 billion
– <1800 – Malthusian Trap – average English income per person stagnant
– >1800 – Industrial Revolution – average English income per person grows exponentially
– >1800 – Industrial Revolution spreads to other parts of the world, starting in Europe, then America, then Asia
– 1800-1920 – annual world population growth rate rises from 0.4% to 0.6%, population reaches 1.8 billion
– 1920-1965 – annual world population growth rate rises from 0.6% to 2.1%, population reaches 3 billion
– 1965-2015 – annual world population growth rate declines from 2.1% to 1.2%, population reaches 7.4 billion

— References —

– The Principle of Population, Malthus (1798) – https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Yxoe-sEcHNgC
– Dysgenics, Lynn (1996)
– Idiocracy, Judge (2006)
– A Farewell to Alms, Clark (2009)
– The Son Also Rises, Clark (2014)
– HBD Chick – https://hbdchick.wordpress.com/
– Marian Van Court – Eugenics – https://www.counter-currents.com/tag/marian-van-court/
– World population, 1750-2015 and projections until 2100 – https://ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth/

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