Malthusian vs Boserup’s Theory

A theory is a supposition or system of ideas intended to explain something. Malthus and Boserup both had their own theories about population growth relating to food supply. A general limitation of this evaluation is the fact that they lived through different eras that resulted in the theories being published based on how the world was in that particular time period. Thomas Malthus lived through the 18th– 19th century while Ester Boserup lived through the 20th century. This time frame is essential due to the fact that these theories were divided by the Industrial Revolution, which automatically means that the view on the world was different.

The Malthusian theory is based on the fact that “a population can never increase beyond the food supplies necessary to support it”. Malthus believed that human population increased geometrically while food supplies can only grow arithmetically, which means that food supply should be high enough before any geometric population growth takes place. This is an interesting case because since this all took place before the Industrial Revolution, Malthus used math and what he believed was logic to figure out how to balance food supply and population growth. He found it more important to deal with food supply first because of the fact that food supply can remain without human population while human population cannot remain without sufficient food supply. Though some might think the Malthusian theory is very limited and “closed”, it is certainly not. At his time, Malthus could not foresee globalization so he worked with what he had. During that time period the world was closed and the Malthusian theory was a great way to maintain the balance between food supply and human population growth.

Boserup’s theory is different than the Malthusian theory due to increased amount of technological advancement. Unlike Malthus, Boserup believed that “an increase in population would stimulate technologists to increase food production”. This is the opposite of what Malthus believed because during her time, the farming technology had dramatically risen and food supply was not the main concern for human population. The base of Boserup’s theory is “necessity is the mother of invention”. This is an important saying because it describes how after this rise of technology and industry, food supply would come after the growth of human population. In other words, the food supply depended on the population size unlike in Malthus’ time where human population depended on food supply. Like any theory, Boserup’s theory contains various limitations, one being the act of immigration and emigration. This is a limitation to her theory because emigration for example usually occurs in areas of over population and lack of globalization that means that some of Malthus’ theory should still be in action today. Also, the fact that overpopulation is occurring shows that food supply is not high enough, or that it is not distributed equally.

To conclude, these two theories are somewhat different to one another mainly due to the fact that Malthus and Boserup are from completely different eras. There were around 7 million people in Britain was alive, and there are more than 60 million today. I might lean towards the Malthusian theory due to the fact that I live in a LEDC and I witness lack of food supply almost every day.



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