Thomas Malthus

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

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…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Citation:
Packham, Catherine. "Thomas Malthus". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 January 2005
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=2902, accessed 21 September 2014.]