The seminal essay on population growth by Thomas Robert Malthus is published here anew, complete and unabridged.
Although wrong in its prediction of mass famine owing to population growth outpacing the growth in production of food, this essay became very influential among scientific and economic thinkers. Evolutionary science in particular appreciated the efforts of Malthus, with both Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin citing his paper as an influence on their own papers on natural selection.
Malthus theorised that the fast rising numbers of people in the industrialising world would result in lowered wages, higher unemployment, and hence greater impoverishment and even famine. This idea, and others on the same theme, have acquired the term Malthusian over more than two centuries since this paper originally appeared - to this day commentators reference Malthus's themes when examining the world's rising population levels.
The essay became both famed and controversial in Georgian Britain, resulting in the passage of the Census Act in 1800 which allowed central government to monitor the UK's population every decade. Despite the dire predictions of mass starvation, rapid corresponding improvements in agriculture and animal husbandry staved off this peril. However mass abject poverty, child labour, slums and other marks of impoverishment would largely persist in British society until the 20th century.