Thomas Robert Malthus Biography

Thomas Robert Malthus was an English economist best known for his hugely influential theories on population growth. This biography provides detailed information about his childhood, life, theories, career, achievements and timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: February 13, 1766

Nationality: British

Famous: Economists British Men

Sun Sign: Aquarius

Died At Age: 68

Born in: Surrey, England

Famous as: Political Economist

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Harriet

father: Daniel malthus

mother: Henrietta Malthus

children: Emily, Henry, Lucy

Died on: December 23, 1834

place of death: Bath, England

More Facts

education: Jesus College, Cambridge, University of Cambridge

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One of the renowned British clerics and scholars, Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus played an influential role in the field of political economy and demography. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and is well-known for his theories of population. His most important work, An Essay on the Principles of Population, presented a contradictory theory of evolution and population against what was prevalent in those times. It presented a contrasting view which singled out the fact that the rate at which the population was growing, it would eventually surpass the rate of production of food and would eventually lead to starvation. He was in favour of long-term stability instead of short term practicality. Furthermore, he criticized the Poor Laws, and supported the Corn Laws, which introduced a system of taxes on British imports of wheat. Sadly, he was the most misunderstood and misrepresented economist of all time. His theory, which is known as Malthusian economy, is said to represent a pessimistic outlook of the human population which is doomed to starvation via overpopulation. It was only after the advent of the Keynesian economics that his views and theory became popular in the 20th century. However, till date, he is referred to as the most debated writer and economist of all time.

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Thomas Robert Malthus
Childhood & Early Life
  • Thomas Robert Malthus was the born to Daniel and Henrietta Malthus in Surrey England. He was the seventh child of the couple.
  • Young Malthus received his preliminary education at home in Bramcote, Nottinghamshire. It was only in 1782 that he enrolled at the Warrington Academy for formal education. However, to his bad luck, the Academy was shut down in 1783.
  • In 1784, he gained admission at Jesus College, Cambridge. While at the college in Cambridge, he mastered not only English narrative, but Latin and Greek as well.
  • Graduating from the same, he subsequently enrolled for a Master’s degree, which he eventually attained in 1791. Two years henceforth, he was elected as a Fellow of Jesus College.
  • In the year 1789, he became a curate at the Oakwood Chapel, in the parish of Wotton, Surrey, abiding by the orders of the Church of England.
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Career
  • In 1798, he released his most well-known work, ‘Essay on the Principle of Population’. The work though not well received then, argued the fact that the increase in the population would eventually lead to a diminished ability of the world to feed itself.
  • He claimed that if the rate at which population expansion took place steadied at the same pace then it would clearly overtake the rate at which land development for crops are foresighted.
  • The work stirred a number of arguments as it was much in contrast to the then line of belief. However, with the introduction of the Keynesian economics in the 20th century, his views and arguments began to be seen in the popular light yet again.
  • Coming under the spotlight, he continued to pen his ideologies and beliefs and between 1798 and 1826 he came up with six editions of ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’.
  • Each edition of ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’ was updated than the previous one and presented an updated account with new line of belief, criticism of the older one and newly found changes in the perspective. It also included pointers for the future improvement of the society at large.
  • In 1799, he undertook a tour of the European countries along with close friends, Edward Daniel Clarke and John Marten. Throughout the tour, he collected population data.
  • In 1802, he moved to France and Switzerland during the Peace of Amiens. The following year, he was appointed a rector of Walesby, Lincolnshire.
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  • In 1805, he took the office of the Professor of History and Political Economy at the East India Company College in Hertfordshire, thus becoming the first ever to hold the academic office. It was there that he earned the nickname, ‘Pop’ or ‘Population’ Malthus due to his works.
  • In 1818, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society. During the beginning of the 1820s decade, he was a part of the discussion forum ‘Malthus-Ricardo debate’ wherein both of them presented their views and proponents of the political economy. They even discussed about the nature and value of rent
  • In 1821, he was the founding member of the Political Economy Club. Three years later, he was elected as one of the ten royal associates of the Royal Society of Literature.
  • In 1834, he was chosen as one of the first fellows of the Statistical Society that was founded the same year.
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Personal Life & Legacy
  • In 1804, he got married to Harriet, daughter of John Eckersall of Claverton House, St. Catherine's, near Bath, Somerset. The couple was blessed with two children, a son and daughter.
  • His son, Henry rose to the rank of a Vicar of Effingham, Surrey, in 1835, and of Donnington, West Sussex, in 1837.
  • He died an untimely death on December 23, 1834 at his father-in-law’s house. He was interred at Bath Abbey
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Trivia
  • This English economist is best known for his hugely influential theories on population growth.
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Last Updated
- September 29, 2017
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