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An Essay on the Principle of Population (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 12 Jun 2008

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An Essay on the Principle of Population (Oxford World's Classics) + The Principles of Political Economy + The Wealth of Nations: Books I-III
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (12 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540454
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540457
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 1.8 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 167,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

He is also the author of many articles on Malthus, the Poor Law, and the Welfare State. He is currently researching a book on Malthus and poverty.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. N. A. Hall on 21 July 2008
Format: Paperback
The seemingly inocuous (dull?) title of this work belies its importance. Thomas Malthus's essay was one of the most influential works of the early nineteenth century.

Malthus argues that population growth has a tendency to outstrip the resources needed to sustain it. He argues that while population grows geometrically, resources only increase arithmetically. The result? Population will oustrip resources. To boot, Malthus takes a side swipe at practices which he believed could tend to increase population without the means to sustain it: In his sights was the so-called 'Old Poor Law', under which justices of the peace provided aid to the poor and unemployed, linked to the price of bread. Malthus argued that this system would increase population without any means to sustain it.

Malthus's work was highly influential. The Census (which began in 1801) seemed to confirm Malthus's conclusions that population was increasing beyond the limit of resources while the 'New Poor Law', established in the 1830s embodied many Malthusian ideas - making it far harder to gain poor relief and this only to be given in workhouses.

In recent decades, empirical historical research into population growth in Britian in the early ninetweenth century and studies in poor relief have cast much doubt on the Malthusian thesis.

This work remains essential to anyone trying to understand early nineteenth century British 'political economy'. This is a nice edition with a helpful and instructive introduction.
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Format: Paperback
An Essay on the Principle of Population was written by the Reverend Thomas Malthus in 1798. In this Malthus argues that poverty is the inevitable lot of the majority of people. Efforts to alleviate poverty will make it worse. Giving the poor more money, either in the form of charity or higher wages, will increase the ability of the poor to buy consumer goods, without increasing the number of consumer goods. This will in the short run lead to inflation. In the long run it will encourage the working poor to have more children. These will bid down the price of labor in the next generation.

In addition, Malthus tells us that poverty builds character, although he does not seem to have felt the need for such enhancement in his personal life.

The reason for these grim results of helping the poor, Malthus explains, is that the human population can always increase faster than the supply of food. If food supply increases at all, it increases incrementally. The human populations, if left unchecked, can double every generation, as it was doubling in the United States when Malthus wrote.

If population growth is not curbed by moral restraint or vice, it will result in misery. By moral restraint Malthus means celibacy. By vice he means birth control. By misery he means famine, epidemics, and war.

Most people allow their likes and dislikes to influence their judgment of what is true and false. For many, inclinations determine judgments of truth and falsity. I am confident that when An Essay on the Principle of Population was published many employers found it easy to agree that the best way they could help their employees was to pay them as little as possible, while recommending to them that they practice strict celibacy throughout their lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr S F P Bennett on 17 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great Book i must say, it is very well written and although in my opinion most of his claims are self explanatory and in some accounts are in my opinion wrong It did open my eyes to a new way of thinking about populations and scarcity of resources, you cannot just distribute wealth, you need to increase yield additionally. May not be a new thing for you to think about, but was to me.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought for my son as an extra reading book for A level Geography . It looks an interesting theory so I will read it too adn see if I agree with him 150 years on!
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