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Criticism Of Malthusian Theory

Superiority over Malthusian Theory
The optimum thesis is superior to Malthusian theory on the following grounds. The Malthusian theory is a general study of the population problem of all countries and optimum theory is superior since along with population problem, it studies economic conditions. Malthus had a narrow vision of merely relating to food supply. Cannan's vision was with wealth of the country. Malthusian is static and Optimum is dynamic study. Malthusian thesis is merely theoretical and optimum theory is very practical as it regards an increase in population not only desirable but also necessary for the maximum utilisation of the country's natural resources. The first theory is unrealistic and the other is very realistic. As long as the population is under the optimum level, the increase in population is safe and good. It is only when the actual population exceeds the optimum level, needs to be controlled whereas Malthus was so much obsessed by the feared of over population. Malthusian theory is pessimistic and optimum theory is optimistic.

Criticism

Inspite of the fact that Optimum theory is superior to Malthusian Theory, there are some criticisms to it. There is no evidence of optimum level and to measure it. Though it is said, the correct level of per capita income is not possible. It ignores distributional aspect of increase in per capita income. Optimum level not fixed but oscillating. It also ignores social and institutional conditions. In the policies of modern states, this policy has no place. It does not explain determinants of population growth. To conclude, this theory fails to have practical use.

The Theory of Demographic Transition

The thesis of demographic transition is based on the actual population trends of developed countries of the globe. As per this thesis, every nation passes through three different stages of population growth. In the first stage, the birth and death rate are high and the growth of population is low. In the second stage the birth rate remains stable but the death rate falls rapidly, as a consequence, the population growth rate increases very swiftly. In the last stage, the birth rate begins dropping equalling to death rate. This is described in the following representation.

In the first stage before 19th century birth rates in Western Europe were 35 per thousand and death rate varied to 30 per thousand. In the second stage, the death gradually decline from 30 to 20 per thousand from the middle till the end of the 19th century. In the third stage, starting with 20th century birth rates began to decline from 20 per thousand and have continued for about a century now, nearing 15 per thousand. Death rates also continued to decline but seem to have stabilised from 10 to 55 per thousand in Western Europe. In the first stage the country is backward and thereby no facilities available for the man kind. This continued in the Western Europe to approx. upto 1840. The second stage the economy enters the phase of fiscal growth. Agricultural and industrial productivity increases and the means of transport developed. In the third stage, the fertility rate declines and tends to equal the death rate so that the growth rate of population declines. The developed countries of the world are passing through this stage and the population is increasing at a slow pace in them.

Conclusion

The theory of demographic transition is the most acceptable theory of population growth. It neither lays emphasis on food supply like that of Malthusian theory, nor does it develop a pessimistic outlook towards population growth.

It is superior to optimum theory which lays an exclusive emphasis on the increase in per capita income for growth of population and ignores the other factors which influence it.

The demographic theory is thus superior to all the other theories of population. Thus this theory is universally applicable.

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