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Thomas Malthus' theory states that the world's population is increasing more rapidly than its food supply. He thought the only solution was to slow down the growth of the population. He recommended the implementation of late marriages and sexual restraint. If people chose not to slow the population growth through the means he advised, the population would be forcibly reduced by natural disasters.
Malthus' theory on population is not suitable for Caribbean societies because of the culture and beliefs of the population.
About the Caribbean
The majority of the population in many Caribbean countries is young people (carec.org). Individuals who choose to get married do so at a young age. Many people, however, choose not to get married but to start a family, sometimes with multiple partners. Even though some wish to start families, others are only interested in the sexual act, and so there is widespread use of contraceptives.
Malthus did not anticipate the development of effective and convenient contraceptives. He did not predict that the use of birth control, which he condemned, would become so widespread. The use of contraceptives has helped to reduce the birth rate to a point lower than Malthus thought possible.
Malthus' Population Control Policies Are Not Acceptable Today
If Malthus were alive today, he probably would recommend that the family size in Jamaica be regulated. Nevertheless, since there are such a wide variety of families, this would be near impossible. Whatever his suggestions would have been, it is not likely that the people would have accepted them.
Regulating Family Size
Parents obtain pleasure from their children. Some think of their children as a form of economic investment and social security for parents and relatives of old age. Some families desire a large number of children because high rates of infant mortality are still feared in some rural areas. These children are expected to become successful and bring their families out of poverty.
Abolishing 'Poor Laws'
Malthus' solution to help the poor was to abolish 'poor laws' and pour all the economic resources into the upper elite. He would not have approved of public libraries, public schools, welfare, and free health services as he saw this as a waste of valuable resources. To follow Malthus' recommendations and abolish 'poor laws' would be to up-heave chaos in Caribbean societies. A vast majority of the population depends on these public facilities every day.
What Malthus Failed to Consider
- Malthus did not count on the medical advances that have given the population effective weapons against the contagious diseases that he expected would devastate overpopulated nations.
- Jamaica acquires most of its food and exports from agriculture. Malthus predicted that the population would run out of food. He did not expect the technological advances to allow farmers to increase production by raising the yield of their land.
Are Positive Checks Likely to Occur?
As for his prediction that natural disasters will solve the problem of overpopulation, that too is yet to be seen. The Caribbean is prone to natural disasters. There are increasing reports of floods, droughts, earthquakes, and seasonal hurricanes. For all these disasters, countries have implemented preventative measures that reduce the negative impacts.
Buildings are designed to absorb the vibrations produced by earthquakes. The materials used will cause the building to sway with the effects of the earthquake without falling. To reduce the possible damages that could be done during a hurricane or flood, the population is educated on the safety procedures that should be followed during any of these events. Warnings are broadcasted, and individuals living in areas prone to flooding are evacuated.
Human Advancements and Adaptations Make the Theory Unsuitable
It is understandable that Malthus did not foresee the growth of technology and man's ability to adapt to the changes in his society to stay alive.
But for these reasons, Malthus' theory on population growth is not suitable for Caribbean societies.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.