2. The validity of his two sets of ratios has also been questioned by his critics. Population has rarely grown in geometrical progression and means of production have rarely multiplied in arithmetic progression. 3.
The span of 25 years assumed by Malthus to allow population to double itself also does not seem to be anywhere near reality. The doubling period for a population varies from country to country and from region to region, depending upon the state of its economy, standard of living, and scientific and technological advancement. For example, it took only about 32 years for the population of Bangladesh, Iran, Nigeria and Mexico to double itself and over 300 years in United Kingdom, 350 years in Japan, 120 years in United States while the doubling period of population in Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway may be more than 350 years and it is projected that the population of Russia, Ukraine, Austria and Germany at the present rate will not double even during the infinite period of time. 4.
Malthus overemphasized the ‘positive’ checks and did not visualize the role of ‘preventive’ checks like contraceptives and family planning. 5. Moreover, natural calamities have occurred in the developed countries, e.g., Australia (floods), Iceland (volcanoes), Japan (earthquakes, tsunami, 11th March, 2011), USA (Hurricanes, Blizzards),thus there was no causal relationship between positive checks and over-population. 6. Malthus has been severely criticized for ignoring the role of changing technology and the consequent transformation in socio-economic set-up of a society. 7.
Malthus also failed to realize even the biological limitations that a population cannot grow beyond a certain limit. Malthus was not so much wrong as he was premature. He recognized that migration and improved techniques of production would temporarily postpone the difficulties engendered by population increase. But he could not have been expected to foresee the tremendous burst of productivity in the modern world (especially in Europe, Japan, China and America) during the 19th and 20th centuries which brought progressive release from the positive checks. In spite of all these criticisms, the Malthusian principle of population has been successful in highlighting the urgency to maintaining a balanced relationship between population and means of subsistence.
The critics of Malthus failed to realize that it was because of a large measure of truth in the Malthusian principle of population that men of today feel the need of resorting to contraception to keep their families within reasonable limits. Another main contribution of Malthus was to bring the study of population into the fold of social sciences. It gave a new line of thinking whereby the dynamics of population growth were viewed in the context of man’s welfare. Moreover, Malthus theory has been supported by the theory of “Limits to Growth” advocated by Club of Rome, and authored by J. Forrester in 1971.
Above all, the Malthusian principle of population initiated theory building and for this reason, his work is of great value.