What is Foolsaurus?

It's a glossary of investing terms edited and maintained by our analysts, writers and YOU, our Foolish community. Get Started Now!


Malthusian catastrophe

Based on the work of 18th century economist Thomas Malthus, a Malthusian Catastrophe is a theoretical event that occurs when population growth exceeds production growth in various resources -- i.e. agricultural production, energy production, etc. A Malthusian Catastrophe is then essentially a result of overpopulation and unsustainable consumption.

"The passion between the sexes has appeared in every age to be so nearly the same that it may always be considered, in algebraic language, as a given quantity. The great law of necessity which prevents population from increasing in any country beyond the food which it can either produce or acquire, is a law so open to our view...that we cannot for a moment doubt it. The different modes which nature takes to prevent or repress a redundant population do not appear, indeed, to us so certain and regular, but though we cannot always predict the mode we may with certainty predict the fact. —Malthus, 1798, Chapter IV.

Although the theory has predicted catastrophe for centuries, so far in relation to food supply, improving technology has been able to overcome the threat. In agriculture, the Green Revolution has been important. Agriculture is a major area of research. In a sense, the Green Revolution continues.

Advertisement