Demographic Theories

Malthusian Theory or Malthusianism

Thomas Malthus claimed (1798) that the increase in food production would be smaller than the growth in the number of inhabitants in the world. So soon there would be no more food for people. Humanity would thus be condemned to go through problems such as malnutrition, hunger, disease, epidemics, among other factors. For him, the poor are responsible for the misery.

Malthus advocated "moral control" to solve this problem. He argued that people should reduce births and control total population growth. In addition, he defended the idea that the poor were largely responsible for the overcrowding in the world, requiring that each person have only as many children as they could raise.

Thomas Malthus, 19th Century English Economist


It emerged in the postwar period. Theorists argue that the higher the number of inhabitants of a country, the lower the income per capita and the availability of capital to be distributed. Population growth is responsible for misery.

Reform Theory

Based on theorists who are totally opposed to the ideas held by Thomas Malthus and the Neomalthusians, they are the reformists or Marxists. These theorists built their ideas on what German economist and sociologist Karl Marx said.

High birth rates are a consequence of underdevelopment and not the cause of it. These problems, in fact, would be caused by poor income distribution and access to consumer goods. In other words, for reformers, the issue is economic inequality, not lack of resources.

To promote the end of hunger and misery or to prevent them from occurring, according to this theory, it is sufficient to distribute income more democratically through social reforms that improve the living conditions of the poorest populations. Thus, if these people have better living conditions, better education, health and other things, they will be better able to abandon their misery.

Karl Marx, German thinker who claimed that the problem lies in social inequality