How Did Malthus Build Food Production In The Ottoman Empire

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Growth and Food Production in the Ottoman Empire

In his 1798 Essay on the Principle of Population, Thomas Malthus defended the proposition that, “had population and food increased in the same ratio, it is probable that man might never have emerged from the savage state.” Labeled a ‘Malthusian trap’ after the demographer’s work, the theoretical principle holds that, because population increases exponentially, while agricultural output increases arithmetically, periodic premature deaths among the population will be caused by a lack of sustenance. Had a population never overcome the reoccurring demographic trap of an equal increase in food and population, Malthus contends, the life of man as a subsistence farmer would continue to be, as succinctly …show more content…

Instead of growth in population being spurred by increased agricultural yield, an acute labour shortage began to resolve itself through an influx of immigrants and a higher population density, which better utilised under-farmed, fallow land. In the words of Ester Boserup, “a given area of land responds far more generously to an additional input of labour than assumed [by Malthusians].” Effectively, without substantial increase to the population density of the Ottoman Empire over the long 19th century, more efficient extensive agriculture, leading to higher yields, would not have been …show more content…

In the Ottoman Empire, immigration from Russia and the upper Balkan Peninsula brought a ten-fold increase in iron plow use in Ottoman Bulgaria, and the introduction of the calorie-rich potato to Anatolia, which had “a beneficial effect of agriculture of Anatolia as a whole.” Whether or not the limited introduction of improved techniques and plant species into the Empire was also driving force behind increased production, it still appeared to be caused by the influx of people to the region. Malthus’s doomsday prediction of stagnation upon population growth appears to fail when considering the possibility of introduction of new techniques to maximize gains. So far, in the case of the Ottoman Empire, the relationship between changes in population density and agricultural production has proven to be that an increase in the former resulted in a subsequent and equal rise in the latter. In order to address whether or not Malthus’s claim that

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