Thomas Malthus
The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus FRS
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 (13 or 14 February 1766 – 23 or 29 December 1834) was an English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 scholar, influential in political economy
Political economy
Political economy originally was the term for studying production, buying, and selling, and their relations with law, custom, and government, as well as with the distribution of national income and wealth, including through the budget process. Political economy originated in moral philosophy...

 and demography
Demography is the statistical study of human population. It can be a very general science that can be applied to any kind of dynamic human population, that is, one that changes over time or space...

. Malthus popularized the economic theory of rent
Economic rent
Economic rent is typically defined by economists as payment for goods and services beyond the amount needed to bring the required factors of production into a production process and sustain supply. A recipient of economic rent is a rentier....


Malthus has become widely known for his theories about population and its increase or decrease in response to various factors. The six editions of his An Essay on the Principle of Population
An Essay on the Principle of Population
The book An Essay on the Principle of Population was first published anonymously in 1798 through J. Johnson . The author was soon identified as The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus. While it was not the first book on population, it has been acknowledged as the most influential work of its era...

, published from 1798 to 1826, observed that sooner or later population gets checked by famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 and disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...


If I saw a glass of wine repeatedly presented to a man, and he took no notice of it, I should be apt to think that he was blind or uncivil. A juster philosophy might teach me rather to think that my eyes deceived me, and that the offer was not really what I conceived it to be.

The germs of existence contained in this spot of earth, with ample food, and ample room to expand in, would fill millions of worlds in the course of a few thousand years.

The perpetual tendency of the race of man to increase beyond the means of subsistence is one of the general laws of animated nature, which we can have no reason to expect to change.

The immediate cause of the increase of population is the excess of the births above deaths; and the rate of increase, or the period of doubling, depends upon the proportion which the excess of the births above the deaths bears to the population.

The main peculiarity which distinguishes man from other animals, is the means of his support, is the power which he possesses of very greatly increasing these means.

The finest minds seem to be formed rather by efforts at original thinking, by endeavours to form new combinations, and to discover new truths, than by passively receiving the impressions of other men's ideas.