Malthus: A Very Short Introduction
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Questions for Thought and Discussion
- What is the difference between ‘positive’ and ‘preventive’ checks to population growth and why are some societies more likely to experience the former?
- How might ‘preventive’ checks be a cause of ‘vice and misery’?
- What were ‘moral’ and ‘prudential restraint’ and how did they operate to help reduce the rate of population increase?
- Why did Malthus oppose birth control within marriage?
- What was the ‘Malthusian trap’ and how did Western nations escape from it?Ã‚Â Can other nations find the same way out?
- Is there a world population problem today or in the near future and how might it be cured or its effects mitigated?
- Why is Malthus considered to be an anti-utopian thinker?
- What information would you need to judge the optimal rate of growth of population in any society?
- Are there any similarities between Malthus’s criticisms of Poor Law administration in his day and the idea that today’s ‘benefit culture’ creates dependency on the state?
- Why did Malthus advocate long-term abolition of the Poor Laws as a remedy for pauperism and why did he settle for something less than this?
- Why is Malthus regarded as a social theorist who powerfully reinforced the role of Nature versus Culture in human affairs?
- What aspects of Malthus’s population theory did Darwin find suggestive for his own work on the theory of evolution via natural selection?
- Why did Keynes regard Malthus as a better foundation for his own economic thinking on unemployment than Ricardo?
- Why do questions involving population size and growth appear to be inherently controversial?Ã‚Â Does this account for Malthus’s unpopularity in some circles?
- How did Malthus reconcile the findings of his population theory with his belief in a beneficent Deity?
Other books by Donald Winch
- Adam Smith’s Politics (Cambridge University Press, 1978)
- Riches and Poverty (Cambridge University Press, 1996)
- The Political Economy of British Historical Experience (Ed. with P. K. O'Brien) (Oxford University Press, 2002)
- Wealth and Life (Cambridge University Press, 2009)
- Patricia James, Population Malthus (Routledge, 1979)
- John Maynard Keynes, Essays in Biography [Contains essay on Malthus]
- J.R. Poynter, Society and Pauperism: English Ideas on Poor Relief 1795-1834 (Routledge, 1969)
- David Coleman and Roger Schofield (eds.), The State of Population Theory (Wiley-Blackwell, 1986)
- Gareth Stedman-Jones, An End to Poverty?: A Historical Debate (Profile Books, 2004)