Thomas Malthus / Political Economist

“Population, when unchecked, increases in a geometrical ratio. Subsistence increases only in a arithmetical ratio”.

-Thomas Malthus, 1798

Political Economist

Thomas Malthus (1766-1834)

Born into a society that believed in steady human progress, Englishman Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) took a dimmer view. A professor of history and political economy, Malthus published An Essay on the Principles of Population as It Affects the Future Improvement of Society in 1798, which notes that although the populations tend to grow geometrically exponentially food supplies increase arithmetically, at a constant absolute rate. Clearly, he said, the future holds famine, unless populations could be held in check by such means as war, disease, and abstinence. Malthus understandably failed to foresee the agricultural revolution or the advent of widespread contraception. Nevertheless, his views continue to be influential among economists and policymakers in a world beset by rapid population growth, war, and famine.