Marxian theory of Population Growth – Geography UPSC

In this article, You will read the Marxian theory of Population Growth for the Geography Optional UPSC IAS Exam.

In Geography Optional, You have to read the 3 theories of population growth i.e.

  1. Malthus Theory
  2. Marx’s Theory
  3. Demographic Transition Theory

The debate about the Malthusian theory has continued down to the present. Economists such as J.S. Mill and J.M. Keynes supported his theory whereas others, especially, sociologists, have argued against it. According to them, the widespread poverty and misery of the working-class people were, not due to an eternal law of nature as propounded by Malthus but to the misconceived organi­zation of society.

Karl Marx went one step further and argued that starvation was caused by the unequal distribution of wealth and its accumulation by capitalists. It has nothing to do with the population. The population is dependent on economic and social organization. The problems of overpopulation and limits to resources, as enunciated by Malthus, are inherent and inevitable features associated with the capitalist system of production.

Marx’s contention that food production could not increase rapidly was also debated when new technology began to give farmers much greater fields. French sociologist E. Dupreel (1977) argued that an increasing population would spur rapid innovation and development to solve problems, whereas a stable population would be complacent and less likely to progress.

The Marxian approach is also referred as Historical Determinism. His theory of population growth is implicit and is implied in his general theory of communism.

Marxian theory of Population Growth

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883) was a German philosopher and founder of modern communism. His theory of population was christened as the theory of surplus population. Karl Marx completely rejected the Malthusian Theory.

While postulating his general theory of communism and scientific interpretation of history in his bookthe Communist Manifesto, and Das Kapital. He gave some ideas about population growth.

Karl Marx (1818-1883) is regarded as the Father of Communism. He did not separately propose any theory of population, but his surplus population theory has been deduced from his theory of communism. Marx opposed and criticized the Malthusian theory of population.

Karl Marx criticized the capitalist economy had a very different idea about population growth. For Marx, these social problems were not the fault of the poor workers, but of the capitalist system that exploited them.

Marx made the scientific interpretation of human history. He said just like there are the scientific explanation for the physical phenomenon, the same are there for social phenomenon. He said the essence of history is change in the modes of production in any society and this changes is always progressive.

Marx considered that society, especially feudal and capitalist society has two major economic classes viz.

  1. The Rich
  2. The Poor

Rich were those who have means of production and earn their profit by exploiting the poor. On the other hand, the poor were those who sell their energy & will to work to these rich people in exchange of wages.

Marxian theory of Population Growth

The employers earn profit by exploiting the poor, this profit is known as surplus profit. According to Marx in no country of world population increase on account of fertility but it increases only on account of capitalist policies.

The capitalist makes labour part of their production and still something out of that. By installing labour-saving machines a capitalist wants to have the maximum surplus-value of that. As a result of this unemployment spreads, wage declines, and poverty increases. The poor population can not nourish their children on account of their poverty thus they try to increase the population by reproduction so that the next generation would also help them to generate extra wages.

However due to the increase in the advanced technology and excess labourers the condition of surplus population and Unemployment generates. This is the main cause of misery.

He came to the conclusion that the main causes of the surplus population were nothing else but the wrong politics of capitalists. Marx was on the view that in the socialist society reproductive behavior would develop a complete harmony between the individual and the society.

Marx suggested that for population control fall of capitalism is the only mean and distributive justice, state control over resources can mitigate the food crisis. Thus his theory is the socio-economic model of population control.

Criticism of Marx

The theory of Marx was criticised on the following grounds

  1. An increase in population does not necessarily lead to a decrease in wages. There are many socio-economic factors which are responsible.
  2. Population growth does not necessarily due to a decrease in wages, this may occur due to improved medical facilities.
  3. The theory of Marx is applicable only in capitalist society and not in other societies.
  4. According to Marx, the higher the wages, the lower the birth rate, but faith and religion may also play a significant role. This he did not consider.
  5. It is true to a great extent that in a capitalist society there is a surplus population on account of unemployment. But it is not to presume that under a socialist system there will be no need to check population growth at any stage.
  6. Even in communist countries, population growth is checked on the plea that no mother should have more children so that their mother so that their health does not deteriorate.
  7. In the erstwhile USSR, factory workers were provided contraceptives in their factories so that the birth rate was kept low.
  8. If economic inequality is the main cause of the birth rate then in these countries rates should not differ. Because these inequalities have come to an end. The necessity of family planning is felt in these countries.

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