Thomas Malthus

(2224 words)
  • Catherine Packham (University of Sussex)

Malthus is primarily remembered today for his Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), a forceful statement of the inequality between population growth and growth in the means of subsistence. Put starkly, his argument was that the human population increases more quickly than its ability to provide food for itself, and, further, checks on population growth often involved “vice” or “misery”. Presented in such terms, it is not surprising that Malthusianism came to be regarded in the early nineteenth century as a determined and miserable pessimism: Coleridge denounced his “abominable tenet” and Hazlitt asserted that “unless Mr. Malthus can contrive to starve someone he thinks he does nothing”. Malthus’s …

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Packham, Catherine. "Thomas Malthus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 January 2005
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]