Document Detail


Malthus on long swings: the general case.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  12269179     Owner:  PIP     Status:  MEDLINE    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
3 major assumptions provided the basis to Malthus' theory of population: food is necessary to human existence; passion between man and woman is necessary and will continue nearly in its present state; and the power of population is indefinitely greater than the earth's power to produce subsistence for humans. With this as his base, Malthus proposed the thesis that strong and constant forces need to hold the superior power of population over subsistence in check. The forces include both positive checks, e.g., infant mortality, and preventive checks, e.g., foregoing early marriage. Malthus evidently had a theory of long swings in mind because he began his essay questioning whether humankind will experience unlimited improvement or a state oscillating between happiness and misery. Waterman (1987) offers a new interpretation of Malthus' theory of long swings, concluding that "the Malthusian theory of oscillations' as sketched in the 'Essay on Population' may justly be represented by a zig-zag path of real wages." 2 questions arise: does the text literally mean what Waterman suggests; and is the text consistent with Malthus' general position. The quotation offered by Wasserman focuses on a special case that illustrates how oscillations might take place but fails to represent Malthus' general position. In any society the population's response to wages determines the "level" of subsistence. Due to the different living habits in each state, the subsistence level varies from state to state, and Malthus devotes much of the 1st "Essay" to discussing what determines the living habits and the subsistence level in different countries. In Malthus' theory of long swings, real wages do not follow a "zig-zag" path. This is due to the fact that neither the accumulation of capital nor the growth of population behaves as he proposes. Whenever the rate of profit is sufficiently attractive, capital accumulates, and the response of population to a change in wages depends on a complex of forces, termed by Malthus as positive and preventive checks. Generally, the path of wages over time is dependent on the prevailing conditions at a particular time and place.
Authors:
P C Dooley
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article    
Journal Detail:
Title:  The Canadian journal of economics. Revue canadienne d'économique     Volume:  21     ISSN:  0008-4085     ISO Abbreviation:  Can J Econ     Publication Date:  1988 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1988-11-07     Completed Date:  1988-11-07     Revised Date:  2009-11-11    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0136414     Medline TA:  Can J Econ     Country:  CANADA    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  200-7     Citation Subset:  J    
Copyright Information:
excerpt
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MeSH Terms
Descriptor/Qualifier:
Demography
Economics*
Evaluation Studies as Topic*
Income*
Population*
Population Dynamics*
Population Growth*
Public Policy*
Salaries and Fringe Benefits*
Social Sciences
Socioeconomic Factors*

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine


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