Competitive Exams: Malthusian Theory of Population Growth

Thomas Malthus, the English economist and demographer, in his ‘An Essay on Principle of Population’ (1798) had propounded a theory which traces an economic approach to demography. According to him population tends to increase faster than the means of subsistence. The fast increase in population absorbs all economic gains unless controlled by what he termed ‘preventive and positive’ checks. He elaborated that if unchecked the population tended to increase at geometric rate while subsistence increased at arithmetic rate. ‘Positive’ checks according to him included wars, disease, poverty and especially lack of food. His ‘preventive’ checks included principally ‘moral restraint, postponement of marriage and vice’ in which he included birth control, abortion and adultery. He was also not in favour of contraceptive methods, since their use did not generate the same drive to work hard as would a postponement of marriage.

Demographic Transition Theory

  • This theory was propounded by W. S Thompson and Frank W. Note stein. It is characterized by five transition stages:
  • Stage 1 High and fluctuating birth and death rates and slow population growth.
  • Stage 2 High birth rates and declining death rates and rapid growth of the population
  • Stage 3 Declining birth rates and low death rates and declining rate of population growth.
  • Stage 4 Low birth and death rates, and slow population growth.
  • Stage 5 Birth and death rates approximately equal which in time will result in zero population growth.

Optimum population

A country is said to have an optimum population if the number of people is in proper balance with the available resources.

Population Problems

Population problems of the Developing Countries:

  1. Rapid growth of population

  2. Unemployment

  3. Poor standard of Living and Malnutrition

  4. Mismanagement of the Agricultural Resources

  5. Slow growth of the Industrial Sector

  6. Orthodoxy

  7. Problem of Under Population (some of the under developed countries are under populated leading to problems like shortage of skilled labour, e. g. Some countries of Africa and Latin America)

Problems of the Developed Countries

In India a voluntary Family Planning Policy has been adopted right from the beginning of 1960s.

In the 1970s the Chinese government adopted a more rigid policy and commenced a program to limit family size to two children. By 1980 the goal was changed to one child per family. The marriage age in China is generally over 24 years for women and 26 years for men and pre marital sexual relations are uncommon.

  1. Long span of Life leads to smaller proportion of productive younger people.

  2. Small work force

  3. Rural people in these countries out migrate and settle in cities.

  4. Problems because of urbanization.

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