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(Oral Bac 2014 G1-G2)

It is commonly believed that the world poverty is rooted in the high rates of population growth and / or population densities. High birth rates of such countries as Mexico, Kenya, and Thailand are thought to be a major economic problem in those countries, holding their living standards down. High population densities in such countries as India, Korea, and the Philippines are believed to impede their economic growth. Much concern over population growth has been evidenced in recent years, but the classic statement of that concern was made in the late 1700s by British clergyman - sociologist - economist Thomas Robert Malthus. He presented the issues logically and systematically, and his analysis is well-known today as the Malthusian theory.

Malthus believed that the world's population tends to increase faster than its food supply, keeping the majority of the population at the verge of starvation and subsistence. He argued that an unrestrained population tends to increase in geometric progression, that is, in the series 2-4-8-16-32... The food supply increases in arithmetic progression: 2-4-6-8-10... This being the case, living standards can never rise far above subsistence levels because of constant population pressure on the food supply.

Malthus pointed at two sets of checks or restraints that operate on the total population. The first consists of positive checks — starvation, disease or pestilence, and war. All these are the natural outgrowth of population pressure on food supply and serve to limit the size of the total population. The second is made up of preventive restraints that humans can use to limit population growth. Chief among these are celibacy, late marriage, and birth control.

Adapted from Ansel M. Sharp et al., Economics of Social Issues, 1990.


To impede: to block or slow down the movement of
The bulk of: a large or big part of

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