The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766–1834)

  • J. M. Pullen
Reference work entry


A brief biographical sketch precedes a discussion of important methodological features of Malthus’s work, especially his ‘doctrine of proportions’ and the need for moderation and balance in economic principles and policies. His principle of laissez-faire admitted exceptions; and, although his principle of population warned of over-population, he acknowledged the potential advantages of population growth. His ideas on the Poor Laws, the Corn Laws, Say’s Law, and the relation between saving and investment are discussed; and the roles given to effective demand and to distribution as a factor of production, especially the distribution of landed property, are emphasized.


Classical economics Cobbett, W. Condorcet, M. de Corn Laws Distribution theories: classical Doctrine of proportions Economic growth Effective demand Free trade Godwin, W. Happiness Hoarding Keynes, J. M. Laissez-faire Living standards Malthus, T. R. Malthus’s theory of population Marx, K. H. Mill, J. Old Poor Law Optimum Perfectibilism Population growth Protectionism Redistribution of wealth Saving–investment equality Say, J.-B. Say’s Law Unproductive consumption 

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Pullen
    • 1
  1. 1.