Malthus & Ricardo

Malthus & Ricardo

Malthus & Ricardo CLASSICAL ECONOMISTS THOMAS MALTHUS AND DAVID RICARDO ARGUED THAT THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING CLASS COULD NOT TRULY BE IMPROVED THUS EFFORTS TO IMPROVE THEIR PLIGHT WERE FUTILE. Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) In 1798 Malthus published his very influential Essay on the Principle of Population He contended that population must eventually outpace the food supply because population grows geometrically while food supply can expand only arithmetically. The only way to avoid the impeding disaster was through late marriage, chastity, and contraception. Contraception was consider a vice by most

Contraception would not become socially acceptable until the late 19 th century He argued that the immediate plight of the working class could only become worse. It wages were raised, the workers would simply produce more children, who would, in turn, consume both the extra wages and more food. Later in life, Malthus suggested, that if the working class could be persuaded to adopt a higher standard of living, their increased wages might be spent on consumer goods rather than on having more children. David Ricardo (1772-1823) In his Principles of Political Economy (1817), Ricardo transformed Malthus ideas into the iron law of wages.

If wages were raised, more children would be produced. They, in turn, would enter the labor market, thus expanding the number of workers and lowering wages. As wages fell, working people would produce fewer children. Wages would then rise, and the process would start all over again. In the long run, wages would always tend toward a minimum level. Both Ricardo and Malthus arguments supported employers in their natural reluctance to raise wages and also provided theoretical support for the opposition to labor unions.

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