Is Malthusian Theory valid Today?
We must, however, add that though the gloomy fare casts of Malthus have not turned out to be true due to several factors which have made their appearance only in recent times, yet the essentials of the theory have not been demolished. He said that preventive checks were exercised, positive would operate. This is true even today.
The Malthusian theory fully applies to countries like India. India is, at present, in that unenviable positio which Malthus feared. We have the highest birh-rate and the highest death-rate in the world. Grinding poverty, ever-recurring epidemics, famine, communal quarrels are the order of the day. We are deficient in food supply. Our standard of living is incredibly low. Who can say that , Ialthus was not a true prophet. if not for his country. at any rate for countries like India and China.
MODERN THEORY OF POPULATION: THE OPTIMUM THEORY
Modem economists have rejected the Malthusian theory of maximum population which, if exceeded, will spell misery in the country. Instead of the maximum population, the modem economists have substituted the idea of the optimum population. By optimum population is meant the ideal number of the population that a country should have, considering its resources. The optimum means the best and the most desirable size of a country’s population. It is the right number. When a country’s population is neither too big nor small, but just that much which the country ought to have, it is called the optimum population. Given a certain amount of resources, state of technical knowledge and a certain stock of capital, there will be a definite size of the population at which the real income of goods and services per will be the highest. This the optimum size. The optimum number can. therefore. he defined as the one at which per capital income is the highest.
Under-population and its Disadvantages, If the population of a country is below the optimum, i.e., below what it ought to be, then the country is said to be under-populated. The number of the people is insufficient to take the fullest possible advantage of the natural and capital resources of the country. This is what happens in a new country. The resources are vast. Much can be produced, but there are not men enough to carry on the work of production efficiently
Per income will diminish; standard of living will fall; war famine and disease will be constant companions of such a people. These are the symptoms of over-population. Capital formation will be hampered and economic development will be slowed down. The dangers of over-population, however, can be avoided by increasing the supply of capital. There is a race between productivity and population. If productivity wins the race, the danger is averted. To be Optimum, Let us suppose that natural resources, stock of capital equipment and state of technology remain fixed in a country. Now assume that population which was initially very small relative to these other resources begins to increase. With the increase in population, labor force of the country will also increase. As more and more labor-is combined with the fixed amounts of these other resources, output per or real income per head will rise. Why ?
This is because the increase in the quantity of labor will make possible greater degree of specialization and more efficient use of natural and capital resources of the country. With a very small population or labor force, there was a limited scope for specialization, for each worker was required to do all sorts of jobs. But as population and, therefore, the quantity of lab our increases, specialization becomes possible. Each man then need not do all the jobs or make all parts of a good. Everybody can concentrate on the job for which he is best suited. Division of lab our among the different workers, which is made possible by the increase in population, greatly increases the efficiency arc productivity of labor.
An increase in population will also perm Cullen utilization of the natural resources and c pi equipment. If the quantity of labor is smart to the natural resources. then even the actually av resources remain under-utilized. Many available resources, which can be utilize producing goods, would not be utilized for labor. Moreover; even the capital equipment be fully and effectively utilized if there 1 of labor. Technology requires that be of a certain minimum size, whet relatively small or large. Capital equip be fully utilized if only a small numeral available to work with it. In other will be relatively
At the optimum. For all these reasons, output per ca pita will rise for a time as population increases. As the population continuous to increase. a point will finally be reached when capital and natural resources are fully utilized and, therefore. output per capital is the highest. The level of population at which per capital output or real income is the maximum is called the optimum population. If population still goes on increasing, that is. crosses the optimum point, output per capital will start declining. The country would then become over-populated.
Beyond the Optimum. Why does the output per capital fall when the optimum point is exceeded? This is because there are now more men in the economy than needed by it. A given amount of capital and natural resources have to be shared out among a large number , of workers with the result that each of them has a smaller amount of equipment. materials and natural resources to work with. For this reason the average productivity declines. It is very likely that many people may not get employment and. therefore. add nothing to production. Thus, there is likely to be unemployment of labor. It so happens that when people do not get employment outside agriculture. they cling to agriculture. The pressure of population on land increases. But the additional men. who get employment
in agriculture. add nothing to production.
In this figure, the size of the population is measured on X-axis and output per on Y-axis. It is evident from the figure that. in the beginning, as population increases, output per capita also increases. Output per goes on increasing with every increase in population till OM population is reached. At OM level of population, the output per MP is the highest. If population now increases beyond OM, output per capita falls. Therefore. OM is the optimum population. If the population of the country is less than OM, it will be under-populated and if the population is more than OM. it will be a case of over-population.
Shifts in Optimum. The changes in the per output curve. as a result of an increase in resources or progress in technology and their effect on optimum population, are shown. With certain given resources and lee 10, per capita output curve is AR and the Ie el 0 optimum population is OM, at whic per . is MP, which is the highest under circumstances
The concept is relative to natural resources, capital equipment and state of technical knowledge. It is assumed that they remain the same. Since these factors are subject to constant change, the optimum is a constantly shifting concept. As such we can seldom arrive at a stable optimum which may have significance in economic analysis and practice. Thus, the theory is based on wrong assumptions.
The theory ignores political, social. strategic and other aspects of the population problem and considers only the economic aspect. For instance, a small population may be advocated on economic grounds but it will be dangerous from the point of view of defence. Adam Smith rightly said.Defence is better than opulence.”The concept of the optimum population is only of theoretical interest. Actually, it is not easy to attain the optimum size by reducing population in the case of over-population and increas in it in the case of under-population. Family planning, whether aiming at reducing population or increasing it, is a long drawn fair extending over several generations. Human are more influenced by culture and traditions by rigid government regulation.