An Essay on the Principle of Population

Thomas Robert Malthus
Malthus, Thomas Robert
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First Pub. Date
London: John Murray
Pub. Date
6th edition
The text of this edition is in the public domain. Picture of Malthus courtesy of The Warren J. Samuels Portrait Collection at Duke University.
About this Book

There are two versions of Thomas Robert Malthus's Essay on the Principle of Population. The first, published anonymously in 1798, was so successful that Malthus soon elaborated on it under his real name.* The rewrite, culminating in the sixth edition of 1826, was a scholarly expansion and generalization of the first.

Following his success with his work on population, Malthus published often from his economics position on the faculty at the East India College at Haileybury. He was not only respected in his time by contemporaneous intellectuals for his clarity of thought and willingness to focus on the evidence at hand, but he was also an engaging writer capable of presenting logical and mathematical concepts succinctly and clearly. In addition to writing principles texts and articles on timely topics such as the corn laws, he wrote in many venues summarizing his initial works on population, including a summary essay in the Encyclopædia Britannica on population.

The first and sixth editions are presented on Econlib in full. Minor corrections of punctuation, obvious spelling errors, and some footnote clarifications are the only substantive changes.

* Malthus's "real name" may have been Thomas Robert Malthus, but a descendent, Nigel Malthus, reports that his family says he did not use the name Thomas and was known to friends and colleagues as Bob. See The Malthus Homepage, a site maintained by Nigel Malthus, a descendent.

For more information on Malthus's life and works, see New School Profiles: Thomas Robert Malthus and The International Society of Malthus.

Lauren Landsburg
Editor, Library of Economics and Liberty