Thomas Robert Malthus Essay

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Thomas Robert Malthus Thomas Robert Malthus is one of the most controversial figures in the history of economics. He achieved fame chiefly from the population doctrine that is now closely linked with his name. Contrary to the late-eighteenth-century views that it was possible to improve people’s living standards, Malthus held that any such improvements would cause the population to grow and thereby reverse these gains. Malthus also sparked controversy with his contemporaries on issues of methodology (by arguing that economics should be an empirical rather than a deductive science), over questions of theory (by holding that economies can experience prolonged bouts of high unemployment), and on policy issues (by arguing against free…show more content…
In addition to the controversies surrounding his principle of population, Malthus became embroiled in important debates with Ricardo over British Poor Laws and Corn Laws, the benefits of free trade, and the possibility of gluts or insufficient demand for goods. In mid-eighteenth-century England the industrial revolution was in full swing. However, workers lived near the level of physical subsistence, and their condition worsened in latter half of the eighteenth century. Monotony and repetition characterized factory work; the tyranny of the factory clock and the pace of the assembly line were beyond the control of all workers. The division of labor, praised by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations as the means to productivity growth and rising living standards, made work so routine that women and children could perform jobs just as easily as men. Business owners logically preferred such workers because they could be hired for less. These circumstances gave rise to numerous champions of the working class. Among the best known were the Marquis de Condorcet, Robert Owen and William Godwin. Condorcet (1795) argued that greater economic equality and more security for workers would improve their material well-being. Toward this end he advocated two reforms – a welfare system to provide security for the working poor, and government regulation of credit to keep down interest rates so that needy families could borrow money at lower cost. Owen attempted to develop
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