The fear that population will outstrip food supplies has haunted human beings throughout history, and has been periodically vindicated by disastrous famines. Malthus put this fear into the form of a theory and Britain reacted by establishing, in 1801, the world’s first systematic population census, which has been repeated every ten years ever since. Other countries in the then industrialising North followed suit, and as a result the rapid growth of their populations became apparent. Nevertheless Europe did not starve. The agrarian revolution of the time made the land very much more productive, and the opening-up of rich farmlands in North and South America and Australia made assurance doubly sure.
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