Malthusian Population

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The Malthusian model of population and economic growth has two key components. First, there is a positive effect of the standard of living on the growth rate of population, resulting either from a purely biological effect of consumption on birth and death rates, or a behavioral response on the part of potential parents to their economic circumstances. Second, because of the existence of some fixed resource such as land, there is a negative feedback from the size of population to the standard of living. These two components generate a number of predictions. Specifically, in the absence of technological change or expansion in the stock of the fixed resource, population will be stable around a constant level. Second, without changes in the function …show more content…
If Malthus and Boserup point to opposite predictions of the impact of population on the economy of agrarian societies, who is right? It seems that both are (Lee 1986). There were probably many traditional societies that suffered from overpopulation and a few that were able to “move to the next level” as a result of population pressure. The few historical societies that did move to higher levels of agricultural productivity were the ones that were able to expand their populations and dominion, primarily through conquest, and laid the foundations of our modern world. Growth and expansion did not necessarily mean better lives for the people in such societies. Boserup and other researchers have noted that peasants and workers in more developed agrarian societies probably worked longer hours, consumed fewer calories, were exposed to more infectious diseases, and suffered from more despotic rulers that people in less developed societies that practiced swidden agriculture and even hunting and gathering populations. Classical …show more content…
The more sophisticated model of the relationship between population and economic growth focuses on the impact of age structure on savings. The most important research exemplar in this tradition was the 1958 book Population Growth and Economic Development in Low Income
Countries by Ansley Coale and Edgar Hoover. High levels of fertility create a very youthful age structure with a high ratio of children to working age adults. Coale and Hoover coined the term
“dependency ratio” to characterize this aspect of the age structure. If fertility were to be reduced, the change in the dependency ratio would allow for a substantial diversion of economic resources from the care and maintenance of children to productive economic investment. The greater economic savings would occur at the household level as families with fewer children could afford to invest in more education, and at the societal level with more state revenues becoming more available for investment in productive capital (infrastructure, factories, and research). The empirical evidence in support of Coale and Hoover were formal models or simulations that

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