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Malthusian Theory – detailed explanation plus graph/chart

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In the 1700s, Thomas Malthus came up with the Malthusian Theory. In this theory he stated that the population growth would always place pressure on the ability of land and resources to support the population. Population is moving at a geometric progression, while land and resources moves at an arithmetic progression. Therefore the population is expanding at a more rapid pace than the land and resources that become available. It is becoming a serious problem to the world as time passes on and population still continues to grow at alarming rates.

There are “natural” ways to keep the population in balance with the land and resources. There are two “natural” ways to do this: Positive Checks and Preventive Checks. Positive Checks can be war, disease, famine, natural disasters and prostitution. Preventative checks helps to slow population in two ways. One way is through defined marriages. In a defined marriage, marriage occurs at a later age. Celibacy is the second option, in which the individual never marries nor engages in sexual intercourse.

The stages a population growth a society moves through as it proceeds from primitive to modern is known as a demographic transition. Three entities are measured within this demographic chart are birth rate, death rate and the rate of natural increase, which is dependent on birthrate and death rate. Birthrate is the number of people born into a society in a given year. Death rate is the number of people who die in a society in a given year. The rate of natural increase, also known as RNI, is the number of people born minus the number of people who die in a given year. However, demographic transition is independent on what state a country is in. There are three types of countries: the less developed, developing and mature.

The first stage deals with the less developed country. In the less developed country there are high birthrates, as well as high death rates. Reasons for high birthrate are due to many different reasons. One could be a lack of knowledge or effectiveness in technology. This could cause or lead to a lack of effective birth control. Another reason could be because of culture. In some cultures children are viewed as an economic asset or a contributing factor to social status/role. As an economic asset children can be used to divide labor or as a form of social security. Under social status the more sons one has, the better outlook they have. Under social role, specifically the mother, she is seen as the “baby-maker”. Religion also plays a factor in a family because some religions encourage a large family size. Factors that contribute to high death rates are lack of agricultural/medical technology, and low standards of living.

In developing countries, Stage 2, there is a slow decline in birthrate and a fast decline in death rate. A factor that contributes to a slow decline in birthrate is cultural attitudes. For example, large families are slow to change. A factor that contributes to a fast decline in death rate is an introduction of modern technology. This slow decline in birthrate and fast decline in death rate leads to a large rate of natural increase.

Mature stage 3 countries have low birthrates and low death rates. Low birthrate is due to technological advancements in birth control. Secondly, these kinds of societies have a different perspective on subjects such as children, social roles and religion. In mature countries the children are viewed as an economic liability, inverse of a Stage 1 country. Social roles of women are no longer seen as the “baby-maker”, thus putting less emphasis on child bearing until later years. Unlike a Stage 1 country where religion is highly emphasized, a Stage 3 family size is not strongly influenced by the institution of religion. Other factors include agencies that take over the social services that are usually provided by large families in less developed societies. Because of the low birthrate and low death rate, the RNI is also low.

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