Malthus, Boserup and Simon’s views on population growth


Thomas Malthus wrote an “Essay on the Principle of Population as it affects the Future Improvement of Society”. He argued that if unchecked population grows at a geometric rate (1, 2, 4, 8) while food supply is arithmetic (1, 2, 3, 4 ). He said that this would inevitable lead to Famine unless we limited population growth.

In the 19th Century he wasn’t correct as the Agricultural Revolution lead to a higher increase in food supply than population due to improved agricultural technology.



Ester Boserup stated that Malthus was wrong as the increasing population would lead to a higher demand for food and therefore stimulate changes in agricultural methods. Changes could include more than one harvest a year, use of fertilisers and irrigation. Ultimately resulting in higher food output to support the larger population.


Julian Simons wrote “The Ultimate Resource” in which he argued that natural resources are infact ultimate in supply. This is because as resources run out the prices will rise resulting in: attempts to find more resources, increased efficency and the finding of substitute goods. He said the only thing that was finite in supply was human brain power and that increasing prices lead to this being allocated to a problem.

Easter Island – Off Coast of Chile

Population chopped trees and killed seabirds to survive leading to them becoming extinct. Trees cut to make boats for fishing. Fall in trees lead to lack of hummidity and rainfall leading to other trees died and people died fighting over scarce freshwater supplies.