Malthusian Theory in Relation to the Caribbean

Topics: Population, Malthusian catastrophe, Caribbean Pages: 5 (2012 words) Published: April 25, 2015
Malthusian Theory in relation to the Caribbean
According to Chinapoo et Al (2014), Thomas Malthus’s Theory (1798), claims that population growth is determined by certain natural laws and food supply was the main limit to population. He argued that population increases faster than the food supply and compared the way in which each increases. Malthus' theory of population can be used to explain the dynamics of the relationship between population and resources in less developed territories. Since the Caribbean is considered to be less developed in comparison to other nation-states for example, the US, France, England and so on, the Malthusian theory of population can be applied to explain population-resource issues in the Caribbean. However it is limited in its scope and explanations, due to the diversity of the individual Caribbean territories themselves. The Caribbean region is very diverse and has been dynamic over the years. According to M.G Smith, the Caribbean region is known for its pluralistic, creole and historical characteristics that have made it what it is today, as different people brought their various practices, cultures, foods and agricultural ways with them. Malthus’s theory can therefore be applicable and related to the Caribbean at different time eras as society changes and develops. It is seen to very inapplicable to contemporary Caribbean society, but applicable to the Caribbean’s traditional society in most cases. According to Mustapha et Al (2008), Malthus claimed that the population increases geometrically or exponentially. For instance if a couple has two children and each child had two children the result will be four grandchildren. On the other hand, he believed that the food supply increases arithmetically, that is a steady increase (2, 3, 4, and 5). In other words Malthus argued that eventually the population will outgrow its food supply and persons will therefore suffer from malnutrition, poverty and so on. Consequently, Malthus came up with two checks or means of controlling the population, namely positive and negative checks. Negative checks refer to practices that limit reproduction or fertility such as moral restraint (abstinence), or delay of marriage. Because of Malthus’s beliefs, he was against the use of artificial birth control (contraceptives). Furthermore, Malthus’s positive checks referred to increase mortality, reduced life expectancy and hence reduced population. Some of these checks include war, famine, epidemics and so on. Moreover, Malthus was against the idea of eliminating poverty through the use of welfare. He saw the poor as a drain on society and believed that the provision of welfare will encourage them to reproduce more. In relation to the Caribbean’s historical society, Malthus’s population theory appears to be very relevant. According to British Slave Emancipation, William A Green (1976), in historical Caribbean society, during the period of slavery, there was little diversification among crops grown in the islands. The planters’ income depended solely on the planting of mainly one crop for many years (monoculture – sugar), which eventually led to the weakening of the soil due to its loss of fertility. Consequently, the quality and quantity of the crops grown fell which resulted in a shortage of food supply as the population grew rapidly. In addition, Malthus’s positive checks to control the population was very evident and effective during this time period in Caribbean societies. According to Green (1976), many lost their lives due to wars or revolts stemmed from the oppression of slavery, for example the Baptist war (1831) in Jamaica; epidemics and diseases from low levels of sanitation and from insects such as mosquitoes, and lastly, from natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There were a huge number of deaths due to the lack of the necessary precautions and programs to prevent the loss of life. As a result the growth of the...
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