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Essai sur le principe de population

Nouvelle édition critique et enrichie

Collection : Classiques de l’Économie et de la population

2017, 240 pages

n° ISBN 978-2-7332-1073-4

19,00 €

Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)

Editors’ note
Jean-Marc Rohrbasser and Jacques Véron

Preface to the first French edition
Jacques Dupâquier

Translator’s note to the first French edition
Éric Vilquin

Essai sur le principe de population [An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798]
Thomas Robert Malthus; translated into French by Éric Vilquin
   Table of Contents
   Preface
  Chapters I-XIX

Une vue sommaire du principe de population [A Summary View on the Principle of Population, 1830]
Thomas Robert Malthus; translated into French by Jean-Marc Rohrbasser and Jacques Véron

Malthus’ Essay: the principle and the controversy
Jean-Marc Rohrbasser and Jacques Véron

A few important dates

Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)

In 1798 when it was published, Reverend Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population was an ideological shock for England, in a state of crisis at the time and traumatized by the French Revolution. Malthus’ book stands as the first formulation of the principle of population, a fundamental advance in thinking on the subject; the text was left unchanged in the five editions that followed. The principle is that the growth rates of population and of means of subsistence are very different; the first is faster than the second. The Essay was not meant only as a scientific text but also as a philosophical tract. According to Malthus, the population principle drives and regulates History and conditions the fate of humanity. Posing as it did the question of the balance between the population and resources, the text remains a key reference in the history of ideas.

The work was not published in France until in 1980. This revised edition, which includes an analysis of the controversy the Essay sparked, is further enhanced by the first French translation of a short version of Malthus’ text, A Summary View of the Principle of Population, published in 1830, which sums up the author’s thinking and demonstrates its consistency.

Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) was a British economist. He published the Essay in 1798 as a philosophical tract, then theorized his population principle in subsequent editions. The work was an immediate success, and the impact of Malthus’ theories has continued to be felt across the centuries.

Translators and editors
Éric Vilquin
is professor emeritus at the Université Catholique de Louvain-La-Neuve; he specializes in population history, and he translated the first French edition of the Essay, published in 1980. INED researcher Jean-Marc Rohrbasser specializes in the history of demographic phenomena and concepts, of demographic statistics, and financial calculation. INED researcher Jacques Véron works on the history of probability, life expectancy measurement, and population and development.

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