Is development the best contraceptive? – Part I: New Malthusian View

The New (Neo) Malthusian view is that population growth is the cause of poverty. Therefore, according to this view, the best solution to the population problem is to reduce birth rates, in order that development takes place.

The view of development implied here seems to be the one held by the modernist and interventionist perspectives (Thomas, Meanings and views of development, 1992): a desirable ‘developed state’, modernised industrial society, which can be achieved by removing ‘barriers’ to modernisation.

In this case population growth causes overpopulation, which in turn puts a strain on the world’s resources, resulting in political instability, poverty, environmental degradation, etc.

Within this view, the measure of development seems that of the World Bank indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national product (GNP), which are associated with capitalism – Malthus, after all, was very associated with free market thinking.

This analysis is part of a wider analysis that I did debating the question: “Is development the best contraceptive?” The slogan ‘Development is the best contraceptive’ implies that there is a population problem that needs to be solved and the best way to solve it is development. My analysis is based on an analysis by Tom Hewitt and Ines Smyth that is contained in their article titled: “Is the world overpopulated (Hewitt & Smyth, 1992)?”

In my analysis published in different blog posts, I discuss four views on population – this one, the New (Neo) Malthusian View, the Social View, the Social View, the Women at the Centre View and the New Consensus View; and I conclude by demonstrating how each of the four views takes culture seriously or not.


I wrote this analysis and commentary for a tutor marked assignments for the Open University Course Module TUXX871 – Development Context and Practice, a course I passed with merit; as part of my studies for the award of a Master of Science Degree in Development Management of the Open University, United Kingdom. I was triggered by the up-date, below, published in the New Vision to edit and republish my post of 2015 in a more user friendly manner, hence splitting up to parts.

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