The Malthusian Theory of Population has been the subject of great controversy.
1. Mathematical Proposition not supported by facts:
The foremost strong criticism leveled on Malthus is that his mathematical proposition is not supported by facts and history.
These two terms ‘Geometrical’ and ‘Arithmetical’ seem to be unrealistic. There is no example in history of countries where population and food supply have increased through geometrical and arithmetical progression, respectively.
Again there is no country where population has doubled itself in twenty five years.
2. Undue emphasis on the relation between Population and Food Supply:
Prof. Malthus has given undue emphasis on the relation between population and food supply. In fact, increase in population should be considered in relation to total wealth rather than food supply. Prof. Seligman argued that the problem of population is not one of mere size but of efficient production and equitable distribution.
3. Only Pessimistic Theory:
According to some critics, Malthusian Theory is only pessimistic. Thus, it gives a gloomy picture and threatens the people with misery, poverty, epidemics, wars, drought and floods. William Godwin has rightly observed that “a black and terrible demon is always ready to strike the hopes of humanity”.
4. Economic Development:
Malthus did not realize that economic development can bring down the birth rate. If the people become more educated, then death rate is reduced through the increase of medical facilities. People think twice before increasing their family because they consider the cost of rearing a child and that of having a car. In this way, the birth rate falls down.
5. Population may not increase as fast as Malthus imagined:
Malthus explained that population multiplies as fast as that it doubles itself in twenty-five years. But this is not true. Generally, it has been noticed that as and when a country develops, birth rate automatically falls down.
6. Neglects the standard of living:
Malthus ignored the fact that as the standard of living rises in a country, the people begin to marry late. They produce a smaller number of children in order to maintain their standard of living. Female education also helps to reduce the size of the family. Thus, expansion of female education and rise in living standards have the effect of reducing the birth rate in the country.
7. Role of scientific discoveries and inventions:
The Malthusian Theory was based on the assumption that the law of Diminishing Returns operates in agriculture. Due to this law, agricultural production fails to keep pace with the growth of population. Malthus could not visualize that by adopting scientific methods, crop production in agriculture can be increased manifold.
8. Not Practicable:
The theory is based on the operation of positive checks by nature when food production lags behind population growth. However, very often, these positive checks reduce food supplies. These checks are not always operating with the intensity of population problem.
9. Moral restraints are not sufficient:
Malthus suggested self control and late marriage etc. as preventive checks. In fact, we cannot expect the people to exercise such control. The use of birth control has become a necessity. Recent progress in surgery has introduced more possibilities of birth control which was never imagined by Malthus. Consequently, positive measures as suggested by Malthus rarely operate.
10. Not a Theory:
It has been pointed out by some critics that Malthus has neglected the very important aspect i.e. biological and sociological factors that govern the growth of population. If we consider these factors properly, then the fear of excessive growth of population becomes baseless.
11. Not applicable to Developed Countries:
The Malthusian Theory of Population has been inoperative in case of developed countries like Britain and France. Artificial methods of birth control have been used on extensive scale that population has become static in these countries. Now efforts are being made to raise the rate of growth of population. Thus, Prof. Malthus’ version has proved untrue in these countries.