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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Economics, 2nd Edition by Tom Gorman

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The Dismal Science?

Thomas Malthus, a British clergyman and professor who lived from 1766 to 1843, developed the theory that orderly society was doomed because population growth would eventually outstrip the food supply. The Reverend Malthus believed that the resulting war, famine, and disease would periodically wipe out significant portions of the population in most countries.
He presented his theory, supported by mathematical proof, in 1798 in his Essay on the Principle of Population. When the Scottish historian Thomas Carlyle read the piece, he pronounced economics “the dismal science,” and the name has stuck. The idea behind Malthusian economics—that the scarcity or exhaustibility of resources breeds catastrophe—has also stuck with many ...

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