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Population Malthus, His Life and Times

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by Patricia James

The name of Thomas Robert Malthus is perhaps more widely known than that of any other economist since Adam Smith. The principle he enunciated, that population growth was rapidly exceeding existing resources, was relevant in its time in a Britain where family size was growing and population expanding. Since then its relevance has not diminished and the fears of the affluent minority that the fruits of technological advance may be snatched away by the demographic profligacy of others has now become worldwide. Yet, despite the continuing popularity of his principle, little is known of Malthus the man. Patricia James has rectified that deficiency and has succeeded in bringing to life a person of great personal charm and kindness, far removed from what one would expect of one whose writings incited contemporary reference to political economy as the 'dismal science'.

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