Malthus, Thomas(1766–1834) an English clergyman whose pessimistic ideas on POPULATION growth were published in his Essay on the Principle of Population as it Affects the Future Improvement of Society (1798). Malthus argued that land is finite and that its productivity can, at best, increase only arithmetically (1,2,3,4, etc.), while population increases geometrically (1,2,4,8, etc.), so that the increase in population tends to outrun the increase in food supply. Consequently, most people would be condemned to live in misery and poverty with wars, epidemics and famines serving to slow the growth of population.
Malthus‘s gloomy view of population growth contrasted sharply with the optimistic views about long-term economic development held by his contemporaries and contributed to the belief that economics was the ‘dismal science’. Although Malthus did not foresee the dramatic improvements in agricultural techniques that have occurred nor the tendency for population growth to slow in industrialized countries, his ideas still cause concern, especially in