The economist who was interested in population was? | Sociology for CUET by Vikash Ranjan | Sociology Guru

interested in population


Question: The economist who was interested in population was?

  1. Smith
  2. Ricardo
  3. Malthus
  4. Myint

Answer: (3)

The economist whose work delved deeply into the dynamics of population and its interaction with economic factors was Thomas Robert Malthus. The correct answer to the question in the MA CUET exam is (c) Malthus. Malthus, an influential 18th and 19th-century economist, made significant contributions to the understanding of population growth, food supply, and the checks that operate on population expansion.

Thomas Robert Malthus:

Born in 1766, Thomas Robert Malthus was an English cleric and scholar. His seminal work, “An Essay on the Principle of Population,” published in 1798, laid the foundation for his theories on population dynamics. Malthus’s work was a response to the prevailing optimism of the time regarding human progress and the belief in unlimited resources. His analysis sought to bring attention to the potential challenges posed by population growth.

Malthusian Population Theory:

Malthus’s primary interest in population went beyond mere statistical analysis. He accumulated data on various demographic aspects, including births, deaths, age of marriage, and economic factors contributing to longevity. His central contribution, however, was in highlighting the intricate relationship between food supply and population growth.

Arithmetic vs. Geometric Growth:

Malthus observed that while food production tends to increase at an arithmetic rate, population tends to increase at a geometric rate. In simple terms, food production grows linearly, whereas population has the potential to grow exponentially. This observation formed the core of his Malthusian population theory.

Checks on Population Growth:

The key insight that Malthus provided was that humans do not inevitably overpopulate to the point of starvation. Instead, he argued that population growth is naturally checked by various factors. He classified these factors into two categories: positive checks and preventive checks.

Positive Checks:

Malthus recognized that when population growth outstrips the availability of resources, positive checks come into play. These are factors that increase the death rate or reduce the birth rate. Examples include famine, disease, and other forms of hardship that lead to an increase in mortality rates.

Preventive Checks:

On the other hand, preventive checks are measures that individuals and societies adopt to consciously control population growth. Malthus identified late marriage, contraception, and voluntary abstinence as examples of preventive checks.

Economic Incentives and Human Behavior:

Crucially, Malthus argued that humans do not succumb to overpopulation and mass starvation solely because they possess the ability to alter their behavior in response to economic incentives. His observations led him to conclude that individuals and societies make choices that influence population growth and, by extension, the availability of resources.

Relationship Between Food Supply and Population:

Malthus’s insight into the relationship between food supply and population growth was based on the recognition that while humans can increase food production through slow and labor-intensive methods, such as reclaiming unused land or engaging in intensive farming, population tends to increase more rapidly. This asymmetry, he contended, necessitates conscious efforts to check population growth.

Misunderstandings and Controversies:

Malthus’s ideas, particularly the notion of a population growing geometrically while food production grows arithmetically, stirred considerable controversy. The term “Malthusian” has been misapplied to describe a pessimistic outlook on the inevitable demise of humanity due to overpopulation. However, such a characterization oversimplifies Malthus’s actual conclusions.

Economic Choices and Human Survival:

Malthus was not fixated on the inevitability of human demise. Instead, he was fascinated by the question of why humans, faced with overwhelming odds and the potential for overpopulation-induced starvation, manage to survive. As an economist, he directed his attention to the economic choices and behaviors that influence population dynamics.

Contributions to Economics:

Malthus’s work goes beyond population theory; he made important contributions to the field of economics. His ideas on incentives, choices, and the relationship between population and resources laid the groundwork for subsequent economic thought. The starkness of his illustrative comparison between arithmetic and geometric series often overshadowed his broader observations on the role of economic choices in the face of population pressures.

Legacy and Significance:

Despite being one of the most misunderstood economists, Malthus’s work has left a lasting legacy. His emphasis on the checks and balances that operate on population growth laid the foundation for subsequent discussions on demographic transitions and the relationship between population, resources, and human survival.


In conclusion, the economist associated with the study of population, particularly the intricate relationship between population growth and food supply, is Thomas Robert Malthus. His insights, often encapsulated in the term “Malthusian,” have been foundational to the understanding of population dynamics and the role of economic choices in shaping human survival. Malthus’s recognition of the checks on population growth and his focus on the interplay between food production and population expansion have had a profound impact on both economic and demographic thought. His legacy endures, reminding scholars to consider the complex relationship between human behavior, resource availability, and the sustainability of human populations.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Question: Define the term “ethnic movement” and provide an example from India.

Answer: An ethnic movement refers to a collective effort by a group sharing common cultural, linguistic, or religious traits, seeking to assert their identity and rights; an example from India is the Khalistan Movement in Punjab.

2. Question: Identify the main objectives behind the Gorkhaland ethnic movement.

Answer: The Gorkhaland ethnic movement primarily seeks to establish a separate state for India’s Nepali-speaking population in the Darjeeling region, advocating for linguistic and cultural recognition and political autonomy.

3. Question: What was the Operation Blue Star, and which ethnic movement was it related to?
Answer: Operation Blue Star was a military action in 1984, aiming to remove Sikh militants hiding in the Golden Temple in Amritsar; it is related to the Khalistan movement, which sought a separate Sikh country.

4. Question: Mention a critical factor that triggered the emergence of ethnic movements in India, as discussed by Dipankar Gupta.
Answer: Dipankar Gupta emphasized that ethnicity is fundamentally a political process, wherein caste and religion, the key components of identity formation, are politicized by leaders for vested interests.

5. Question: What were the primary reasons for the Assam Ethnicity conflicts involving Bodo tribals and Bengali Muslim settlers?
Answer: The Assam Ethnicity conflicts primarily stemmed from issues related to immigration, land rights, and resource allocation, leading to clashes, riots, and evolving relationships among indigenous communities to address challenges.

6. Question: Briefly describe the role of the Dravidian Movement in terms of caste and societal structure.
Answer: The Dravidian Movement, led notably by E.V. Ramasamy, aimed to establish an egalitarian society, focusing on anti-Brahmanism and advocating for equal rights for backward castes, while also introducing reforms like self-respect marriages.

7. Question: Name the prominent ethnic movements in North-East India and specify one common objective.
Answer: Prominent ethnic movements in North-East India include the Nagas’ and Mizos’ struggles; a common objective was to gain autonomy and recognition for their distinct tribal identities and cultural uniqueness.

8. Question: What is the key argument of Gail Omveldt regarding traditional Indian society and multiculturalism?
Answer: Gail Omveldt opposed romanticizing traditional Indian society, arguing that hierarchy has always dominated it and dismissing the notion that multiculturalism is an intrinsic feature of Indian society as a myth.

9. Question: Briefly explain the social hierarchy factor as a contributing element to ethnic movements as suggested by Olzak.
Answer: Olzak suggests that the construction of hierarchies among ethnic communities, which often leads to the suppression of one group by another, is a key factor that can instigate social and ethnic movements.

10. Question: Identify one consequence of the unequal economic development factor within the context of ethnic movements in India.
Answer: One consequence of unequal economic development is the marginalization and underdevelopment of certain groups, leading to feelings of alienation and sometimes initiating ethnic movements as these groups strive for equality and recognition.

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