The End of the Malthusian Trap

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The article begins by addressing the causes of extreme poverty, which can be seen in places like Bangladesh and Ethiopia. The relationship between population size and income is then defined. According to Malthusian theory, overpopulation strains a country’s limited resources, resulting in malnutrition, which is the only way to stop the population from increasing. The author goes on to say that Africa will continue to be impoverished because its rate of reproduction is higher than its rate of agricultural production, implying that there will be insufficient food to feed the population. The author then argues that as population rises, income reduces since the number of people cultivating the same piece of land increases. Indeed, the author points the Black Death as an historical evidence to this theory, that the massive death of the workforce led to increased income for the remaining few. However, when the population later recovered, the wages went down again. Therefore, high standards of living would only be achieved if women delayed child bearing and increased the gap between pregnancies since population growth could be arrested for economic development.

However, according to the author, it turns out that Malthus had been wrong all along. What Malthus did not anticipate is the rise in innovation and technology that would solve many socio-economic problems. Therefore, his arguments could no longer hold in an industrialized society. The article elucidates that the industrial revolution that begun in Britain and other European countries transformed the world’s economy which was now expanding faster than the population. The article concludes that eventually, with economic prosperity, birth and mortality rates decreased drastically and population growth began to slow bringing about improved living standards.

Article Summary 2: The Theory of the Demographic Transition

The article begins by describing the origin of the demographic transition theory. It then describes the changing patterns of mortality, fertility and birth rates as the world transitions from one demographic era to another. The article further explains how birth and death rates relate to economic progress and how this changes as a society passes through various phases of population growth. According to the author, Warren Thomas used data collected from different countries to group them into three categories, A, B and C, based on their population growth patterns. The groups, the article continues to explain, were later renamed the incipient decline, transitional growth and high growth potential by Frank Notestein. Further, the article talks about population explosion and terms it the source of demographic transition. The article then presents the different arguments put forth by different scholars such as Malthus, Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Arsene Dumont and Emile Durkheim, concerning the demographic changes that take place in the world.

The article links the transitions in demography to modernization process and suggests that the society has generally evolved from being traditional to being modern. This, the article continues, has brought massive economic changes due to industrialization which has caused the society to transition from high fertility and mortality rates to low fertility and mortality rates. According to the author, there are a set of demographic transitions that occur in the advanced societies overtime which, when combined helps in understanding the roots and effects of population change. The transitions, as mentioned in the article, are the health and mortality, fertility, age, migration, urban, and family and household transitions. Each of these transitions, the author notes, has an impact on population growth in a society.

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