Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Thomas Malthus


Thomas Malthus is not a financial term, but a reference to an influential British economist and demographer. He is renowned for his theories on population growth and resources, as detailed in his work “An Essay on the Principle of Population”. Malthus theorized that population growth would outpace the growth of resources, leading to societal challenges, hence influencing economic theories and policies.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Thomas Malthus” is: ˈtoʊ-məs ˈmal-thəs

Key Takeaways


Economist and Demographer: Thomas Robert Malthus was a renowned British scholar from the 18th century who made significant contributions to the fields of economics and demography. His ideas were controversial and provocative in his time and continue to spark debates in the contemporary era.


Population Theory: Malthus is especially known for his theory of population growth, outlined in his work, “An Essay on the Principle of Population”. He proposed that population would increase geometrically if unchecked, while resources would grow arithmetically. Thus, he suggested that population growth would eventually outpace resource availability, leading to catastrophic consequences such as famine and disease.


Malthusian Catastrophe: The concept of a “Malthusian catastrophe” emerges from his theories. According to this idea, unchecked population growth would ultimately lead to societal collapse due to resource depletion. However, this pessimistic view has been criticized and challenged with the advent of new technologies and agricultural practices that have significantly increased the world’s carrying capacity.


Thomas Malthus is a significant figure in business and finance due to his influential theories on population growth and economic sustainability. An English economist and demographer in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Malthus proposed that while population growth tends to increase rapidly in a geometric progression (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc.), the growth of food production only occurs at an arithmetic progression (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.). This theory, known as the Malthusian theory, highlighted the potential crisis that could emerge if the population’s growth outpaced resource production, leading to overpopulation and resource scarcity. His ideas have significantly influenced economic thinking, environmental policy, and macroeconomic models, making Malthus an essential name in the field.


Thomas Malthus is actually not a finance/business term, but rather refers to a highly influential 18th-century British scholar and economist known for his theories on population growth. Nonetheless, Malthus’s theories still hold profound implications in the realm of economics and finance, particularly through his development of the Malthusian theory of population. Introduced in his work “An Essay on the Principle of Population” in 1798, Malthus proposed that while food supply grows at an arithmetic rate, human population grows at an exponential rate, inevitably leading towards a scenario of resource scarcity.In the context of finance and business, Malthus’s theory underscores the potential challenges and complications in managing and forecasting resources, consumer behavior, and market responses. Suppose a certain product or service becomes in high demand in a rapidly growing population, for instance. In that case, businesses must carefully strategize production, supply chain management, and pricing to ensure that supply can adequately meet demand, prevent unnecessary inflation or market instability, and maintain profitability. Furthermore, Malthus’s principles relating to the limitation of resources can be extended to interpret economic cycles, effects of overpopulation, and the impacts of resource exhaustion on financial markets, inviting businesses to consider sustainability and efficiency in their operations.


Thomas Malthus, a British economist, is well-known for his Malthusian Theory of Population. This theory states that while the population grows at a geometric rate (2, 4, 8, …), food production increases at an arithmetic rate (1, 2, 3, …). This could ultimately result in the population outstripping food supply and leading to poverty, famine, or war. 1. Malthusian Trap in India: A prime example of Malthus’s theory can be seen in India. Despite great strides in technology and farming practices, the country’s massive population growth is rapidly depleting its resources. The income per capita remains low, leading to poverty, and high rates of malnutrition can be observed, which holds back India’s overall development.2. Overpopulation in Africa: Many African countries are experiencing rapid population growth which outpaces economic development and food production. This intense population growth, coupled with issues such as climate change and political instability, has left many regions unable to attain food security and push their economies forward.3. China’s One-Child Policy: To avoid the Malthusian catastrophe, China introduced the One-Child Policy in 1979. By limiting the birth rate, the country was able to better manage its population growth and avoid some of the negative implications of the Malthusian theory such as potential famine, overuse of resources, and high poverty rates. However, this policy also had socio-economic consequences and was phased out in 2015. In all cases, while the Malthusian theory may seem simplistic or overly pessimistic today, it still offers a valuable perspective on the challenges of balancing population growth and resources.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Who is Thomas Malthus?

Thomas Malthus was a British economist and demographer, known for his theory on population growth. He lived from 1766 to 1834.

What is Thomas Malthus famous for?

Thomas Malthus is famous for his theory on population, known as Malthusian Theory. He theorized that while population grows geometrically, the means of subsistence grow only arithmetically, leading to overpopulation and resource scarcity.

What is the Malthusian Theory of Population?

The Malthusian Theory of Population is a principle which states that human population grows exponentially (i.e. doubling with each cycle) while food production grows at an arithmetic rate (i.e., by the repeated addition of a uniform increment in each uniform interval of time).

Did Thomas Malthus contribute to economics?

Yes, Thomas Malthus contributed significantly to economics. His ideas influenced important concepts such as sustainable development, demographic transition concepts and inspired works of other prominent economists such as David Ricardo.

What was Malthus’ principle of population?

Malthus’ Principle of Population stated that population increases faster than the food supply, leading to inevitable famine, disease, or war as a result of the food shortage.

How are Malthus’ principles relevant to modern economics?

Malthus’ principles, particularly his theory of population growth, continue to be relevant to modern economics, especially in discussions regarding the carrying capacity of the Earth and its consequences for sustainable development.

What is a Malthusian Catastrophe?

A Malthusian Catastrophe, also known as a Malthusian Crisis, is a prediction that population growth will outpace agricultural production leading to widespread famine. This idea originates from Thomas Malthus’ theories.

What are some criticisms of Malthus’s theory?

Many criticisms of Malthus’s theory argue that he didn’t account for technological advancements which increase productivity, modification of human behavior, and the ability of free markets to solve the problem of potential oversupply of population.

Can Malthusian Theory be applied today?

While it may not be directly applicable due to advancements in technology and agriculture, the Malthusian Theory raises important questions about sustainability and equitable distribution of resources, making it relevant in modern discussions.

What is the relationship between Malthusian Theory and environmental conservation?

Environmental conservationists often reference Malthusian Theory because it supports the idea that human overpopulation and overconsumption may lead to resource depletion.

Related Finance Terms

  • Malthusian Theory of Population
  • Scarcity of Resources
  • Population Growth
  • Preventive and Positive Checks
  • Economic Overpopulation

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More