POVERTY


HOME


FAMILY PLANNING

 

POVERTY

 

REFERENCES

NEO-MALTHUSIAN THEORY

An important idea regarding overpopulation as it relates to poverty is that presented by the neo-Malthusian perspective.  Thomas Malthus argued that overpopulation directly corresponds to human suffering due to the notion that human population increases geometrically while food production can only increase arithmetically.  These trends, he argued, would result in a point at which a society experiences war, poverty, and famine as the need for food surpasses its availability.  This relationship is illustrated in Figure 2 below.


Figure 2. A Malthusian representation of food production vs. population.

Malthus reasoned that the process of population growth would need to be “checked” by a decrease in fertility or a increase in mortality (6).  The neo-Malthusianism perspective is essentially the application of Malthus’ theories on current world systems in order to investigate trends and make predictions (7).  The implications of a neo-Malthusian model are that the Earth can only sustain the agricultural needs of a limited population and that as overpopulation occurs, there are significant social and economic consequences.  Neo-Malthusian perspective has also been extended beyond agricultural sustainability to describe the need and depletion of all resources.  These interpretations suggest that overpopulation may in fact be a direct cause of poverty and starvation in societies around the world (7).

Neo-Malthusian theories have many critics and have been disputed and debated since their formulation.  A major criticism of this theory is that the problem with food availability is not a result of insufficient food production but rather a result of inadequate distribution.  Another prevalent criticism is that people will develop alternatives to depleted resources and will continue to adapt to their changing availability through the creation of new technologies and processes (7).  The validity of neo-Malthusian theories continues to be debatable and it is unclear as to whether overpopulation is a cause of poverty or not.  Although no definitive conclusion has yet been drawn regarding how well neo-Malthusian arguments describe the effects of overpopulation, it is an important perspective to understand and consider when investigating the correlation between population and poverty.

REFERENCES