Malthusianism in contemporary usage refers generally to the problems of food and resource scarcity created by and the limits imposed on human population growth. It refers to the work of the English cleric Thomas Robert Malthus, particularly his Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798. Although debates about the relative merits and demerits of Malthusian thought are now fairly sterile, they are nonetheless relevant to discussions of international development, population geography, food security, and migration. The following sums up the history, influence, and limitations of Malthusian thought.

Malthus's “principles” of population were, first, that human population grows geometrically (e.g., 1, 2, 4, 16 …) and, second, that its ability to feed itself grows only arithmetically (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4 …). Malthus allowed ...

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