Henry George on Thomas Robert Malthus

Abundance vs. Scarcity


  • Jim Horner

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      Jim Horner is professor of Economics at Cameron University, Lawton, Oklahoma. This paper was presented to the Congress of Political Economists at the University of Pretoria in South Africa, during August 12–16, 1996. The Robert Schalkenbach Foundation provided a generous grant for travel and other expenses. C. Lowell Harriss made helpful comments on the paper. The author takes responsibility for any errors that may be herein.


Abstract. The present era marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Henry George and the 200th anniversary of the publication of Thomas Robert Malthu's Essay in the Principles of Population. In observance of these historic dates, this paper examines George's critique of the work of Malthus and explores the ideological functions that both men served. George contended that Malthusian population theory served as a means of social control by supporting the landed class and strongly opposing ameliorative public policy. George, on the other hand, lashed out against the private ownership of land and advocated policies of equality and social justice.