In contrast to this viewpoint, Malthus interpreted overpopulation as an evil that would reduce the amount of food available per person.
In his famous treatise 'An Essay on the Principles of Population', Malthus stated that, .
In simple words, if human population was allowed to increase in an uncontrolled way, then the number of people would increase at a faster rate than the food supply.
However, this will only last till the population equals the food supply and the inflation ceases; after which, overall standard of living will rise and so will the population explosion reaching the same point, hence called the vicious cycle.
In his first edition of the essay, Malthus proposed two main solutions to the problem of population explosion, namely:
This method results in increase in death rate.
It is in the light of their vehement reaction to Malthus, therefore, that we have to understand the reluctance of those who bear the Marxist name to admit that there ever is or can be any need to check the increase of population.
In the same early work from which I have quoted already Engels railed at the 'sham philanthropy' which 'produced the Malthusian population theory -- the crudest, most barbarous theory that ever existed, a system of despair which struck down all those beautiful phrases about love of neighbour and world citizenship'.82 Later he asks, starting with words which sound a little incongruous on the lips of an atheist: 'Am I to go on any longer elaborating this vile, infamous theory, this revolting blasphemy against nature and mankind?
For there have been and are, or at any rate could be, populations which, thanks to the unexploited richness of their territory and to the technical possibilities available to them, could multiply at the full biologically possible rate for a few generations without feeling any shortage of the means of mere subsistence; and this even allowing that that rate is in fact considerably larger than Malthus estimated.
After citing various other sinologues to the same effect, and making or quoting the sort of calculations which could be made without census data and other modern statistical material, Malthus points his lesson of the need for moral restraint:
The population which has arisen naturally from the fertility of the soil, and the encouragements to agriculture, may be considered as genuine and desirable; but all that has been added by the encouragements to marriage has not only been an addition of so much pure misery in itself, but has completely interrupted the happiness which the rest might have enjoyed.
For in his , completed early in 1822, he wrote:
If, above all, it were once clearly understood, that it was not disreputable for married persons to avail themselves of such precautionary means as would, without being injurious to health, or destructive of female delicacy, prevent conception, a sufficient check might at once be given to the increase of population beyond the means of subsistence; vice and misery, to a prodigious extent, might be removed from society; and the object of Mr Malthus, Mr Godwin, and every philanthropic person, be promoted by the increase of comfort, of intelligence and of moral conduct, in the mass of the population.
This is defined, strictly and narrowly, as 'the restraint from marriage which is not followed by irregular gratifications'.38 With this transforming modification the old claim to exhaustive-ness is then repeated: 'The checks which repress the superior power of population, and keep its effects on a level with the means of subsistence, are all resolvable into moral restraint, vice and misery.'39Before moving to the sixth and final stage of his theory construction it is worth remarking that just as Malthus seems not to envisage the possibility that a married couple might resort to abortion in order to remove the consequences of their regular connexions, so he never explicitly entertains the thought that there could be restraint not just from and before marriage, but after and within it.
This difficulty must fall somewhere; and must necessarily be severely felt by a large portion of mankind.24So again in the Malthus insists that
the power of population being in every period so much superior, the increase of the human species can only be kept down to the level of the means of subsistence by the constant operation of the strong law of necessity, acting as a check upon the greater power.25By the time he came to write , however, Malthus seems to have developed some slight scruple as to exactly how much and what this comparison does prove:
it follows necessarily that the average rate of the actual increase of population over the greatest part of the globe, obeying the same laws as the increase of food, must be totally of a different character from the rate at which it would increase .
Thus in , speaking of a possible increase of population 'in the well-peopled countries of Europe', Malthus maintains that 'there is no reason whatever to suppose that anything besides the difficulty of procuring in adequate plenty the necessaries of life should either indispose this greater number of persons to marry early, or disable them from rearing in health the largest families.'58 The sovereign remedy of moral restraint is defined accordingly in terms of 'prudential considerations', which Malthus usually construes as referring exclusively to this difficulty: 'abstinence from marriage, either for a time or permanently, from prudential considerations, with a strictly moral conduct towards the sex in the interval.
the population has been found to double itself in twenty-five years', Malthus concludes that 'This ratio of increase, though short of the utmost power of population, yet as a result of actual experience, we will take as our rule; and say,"That population, when unchecked, goes on doubling itself every twenty-five years, ...
Since that first publication no one concerned for the general human welfare has been able, whatever his convictions, to ignore those problems of the pressures of population which are now labelled 'malthusian'.