/ / Malthusian Theory of Population growth, criticisms & checks

Malthusian Theory of Population growth, criticisms & checks

Malthusian Theory of Population Growth:

Malthusian theory of population growth addressed the problem of over population. The problem was addressed by Malthus while he was working on his essay “The principle of population”. Malthus examined the relationship between the population growth and the limited resources. From this very same essay, he developed his theory of population growth. Furthermore, according to this theory the birth rate increases in a geometric progression. Whereas, the production of the food happens in arithmetic progression. This means that population increases at a greater rate than the increase in the food supply. This was really a serious issue of its time and similarly, we are facing the same problem of overpopulation now as well. Malthus said if we don’t have a check on overpopulation, it will soon outgrow the resources.

Malthusian Theory of Population

Principles contained in the Mathusain Theory of Population:

  1. The theory explained that population growth occurs in a geometrical progression i.e. 2, 4, 8 and so on. However, the increase in food supply occurs in the arithmetic progression i.e. 1, 2,3,4,5 and so on. If the increment occurs this way, soon there will be the shortage of food and it is a major problem. So, where ever you face the shortage of food, it indicates the high rate of population growth.
  2. He explained in this theory that just because the growth rate in the population is very high it will double after twenty-five years and it will not be possible to increase the supply of food by the same rate.
  3. The relationship between male and female causes the population to grow and contrary to that, the supply of food increases at a slower rate due to the law of diminishing returns.
    Moreover, the Malthusian theory explained that such an issue should be checked properly. The disequilibrium between population and resources should be minimized. In order to that, Malthus said that there are two types of checks. These checks can reduce the population’s growth rate.

Two Checks on Malthusian Theory of population described are:

1. Preventive Checks:

The preventive checks are the actions which people take voluntarily in order to avoid the increasing population. These checks include late marriages, simple living, and moral restraint. In moral restraint, the people don’t hurry to get married until they become able to support a family. Whereas, Malthus also mentioned the immoral ways due to which one can control the population’s growth rate. Some of the immoral ways are prostitution, adultery and birth control. However, Malthus never supported these immoral acts and he was always in favor of the moral restraints which is the better step to control the population

2. Natural or Positive Checks:

The type of check which includes famines, short lifespan, calamities, and wars. This is the nature’s own way of reducing the population when man fails to do so. It brings the level of the population to the level of the food supply. History is full of such examples during which the world lost its population.

Criticisms of the Malthusian Theory of Population Growth:

During the 19th and 20th century, this theory was extremely criticized. Some of the criticisms are as follows:

An improper approach towards the mathematical form of the Theory:

The theory was first discussed in perspective the situation of Great Britain. However, the population increase in geometrical progression and the increment in population in the next twenty-five years was not true.

Didn’t foresee the new areas:

The Malthus’s vision was too restricted and his theory was specifically explaining the local conditions in England. He didn’t foresee the opening up of new areas just like Australia. Argentina and US where farming of the lands was still possible and the production of food could be increased. For example, Australia has uncultivated land and Colin Clark also proposed the proper use of the land. We can avoid the shortage of food if we use the land properly. So, Malthus’s theory overlook this side of the story.

The concept of manpower was ignored:

The Malthusian theory only explained the threat a human brings to the world. It ignored the wider perspective. Whereas, Cannan explained that the increase in population also increases the manpower. With every upcoming stomach in the world, a pair of hands also come in the world. So, the increase in population also increases the supply of the labor and hence, the total industrial and agricultural output also increases. Thus, a country becomes rich with the increased production of outputs and equal distribution of wealth.

Moral degradation and other diseases:

The control of the population by using the contraceptive has led to many serious diseases and also the moral degradation in a sense that it devalues the respectable term marriage.

Applicability of the Malthusian Theory:

Despite all the criticisms and drawbacks, the theory still has its applicability. The theory is not applicable to the place of its origin but it is applicable in countries like Japan, China, Africa, India, and Pakistan. Such countries, as a result, are adopting the concept of family planning. Whereas, the positive checks such as calamities, wars, famines are also occurring naturally

Is Malthusian Theory Applicable to Pakistan?

Yes, there is wide applicability of this theory in Pakistan as well. Following are the supporting points which prove the applicability of this theory to Pakistan.

  1. Pakistan’s Population is rapidly increasing with an average annual growth rate of 2.4% since 1998.
  2. There are some areas in Pakistan where people hardly get their food.
  3. Living standard is another indicator which shows whether people are living properly or not. The low standard of living in Pakistan shows that high growth rate has led to such issues and people have no other option instead of living a low standard life. The people are still living below the poverty line.
  4.  If we talk about life expectancy, we can see that the life expectancy is also very poor in Pakistan. On averages, a person lives around 60 years.
  5. We can also evidence the preventive checks in Pakistan. Though people are not much illiterate to go for a family planning with the passage people, there are still some people who apply family planning.
  6. Natural calamities also occur in Pakistan. We are continuously facing floods and droughts etc.
  7.  Early marriages are yet another issue in Pakistan.

Finally, we can see that Malthus’s theory has its applicability in the economy of Pakistan. One cannot deny the applicability of this theory. So, the theory holds quite true in the underdeveloped countries. The people when marry strongly desire for reproduction and population will increase if people don’t follow the preventive measures. Similarly, the idea that nature has its own rule for reducing the population if humans fail to do so was also true. Because history is full of such pieces of evidence. The theory is practical and applicable in developing countries properly and has great importance. So, there is definitely the importance of Malthusian theory.

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