Sociology Index

MALTHUSIAN CRISIS

Malthusian crisis refers to the ideas of Thomas Robert Malthus who argued that while populations grow exponentially the rate of increase in the food supply is much less. This creates a natural limit on populations and produces miserable conditions for society and inevitable mass starvation, unless of course individuals practice birth control.

Thomas Robert Malthus, English economist, pioneer of the science of political economy and is known for his theory, as expressed in Essay on Population, that the rate of increase of the population tends to be out of proportion to the increase of its means of subsistence; controls on population are therefore necessary to prevent catastrophe.

Prof. Greene discusses how the population apparatus is being re-built and US leadership re-defined by an alliance between neo-liberal and cultural forms of Malthusian reasoning. He documents the re-configuration of the Malthusian modern by investigating the rise of sustainable development, the feminist challenges to the population apparatus, the desire to contain human migrations, and the changes in US welfare policy during the 1990s.

The global issue is the continuing need to produce more food given current deficiencies in particular regions and anticipated population increases averaging 80 million per annum up to 2015 followed by 50 million per annum to 2050. The challenge today is the same as Malthusian crisis, identified by the Reverend Thomas Malthus.

Malthus described a China in which early and universal marriage ensured high fertility and therefore high mortality. He contrasted this with Western Europe, where marriage occurred late and was far from universal, resulting in lower fertility and higher demographic responsiveness to economic circumstances.

Books on Malthusian crisis:

Malthusian Worlds: U. S. Leadership and the Governing of the Population Crisis - Ronald Walter Greene
Malthusian Worlds pulls together insights from cultural studies, rhetoric and continental theory to explore the art of government.

Land Resources: on the edge of the Malthusian Precipice : An article from: The Geographical Journal [HTML] - by Donald A. Davidson
The challenge today is the same as that identified by the Reverend Thomas Malthus. This digital document is an article from The Geographical Journal, published by Royal Geographical Society on June 1, 2000.

One Quarter of Humanity : Malthusian Mythology and Chinese Realities, 1700-2000
by James Z. Lee, Feng Wang
Malthus described a China in which early and universal marriage ensured high fertility and therefore high mortality. He contrasted this with Western Europe, where marriage occurred late and was far from universal, resulting in lower fertility and higher demographic responsiveness to economic circumstances.