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Neo Malthusian and Cornucopian Views on Resources

Cornucopian perspective borrows its name from Cornucopia which is a Greek word referring to ‘the horn of plenty’ in other words symbolizing abundance. On the other hand, the school of thought called neo Malthusian has its foundations in an essay titled ‘An essay on the principle of population’ written by Reverend Thomas Malthusian and the school is called after him (Muir, 2008). This essay seeks to compare and contrast the two schools of thought. Differences Cornucopian perceives the supply of resources as infinite.

They have supported their claims by saying that human beings in the past feared running out of resources, which has never happened, and every time they feared, they found more others or substitutes. This is why the school has been termed as optimistic. (Muir, 2008). On the other hand, the pessimism of neo Malthusian contradicts this view by stating that the growth of the population can take place at a faster rate than how food can be increased or produced and this would mean running out of resources if the limitation of the population growth does not take place (Muir, 2008).

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For cornucopian school, they are aware of the population increase but for them they welcome it in contrast to the Malthusians. For them, population growth coincides with economic development. This is because, the increased population would provide the stimulus needed for change technologically and also in discovering resources that are new. This contradicts the Malthusians who think population growth would only lead to economic decline (William, 1995).

Cornucopias see the policies to be implemented to intervene in the population growth would not bear fruits and the limitations that would be imposed on the same would only worsen things by interfering with the market.

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This contradicts the school of Malthusians who are calling for immediate policies to reduce the population growth and if it does not happen, they warn of serious consequences (William, 1995) Similarities The two perspectives are evolutionary in character. In all the schools, the term ‘evolutionary’ has been used but with different meanings.

The second thing is that the adherents of these schools see themselves as iconoclastic. They are fond of contrasting their own views with the ‘orthodoxy’ ones which mainly represent the economists’ conventional wisdom. The two schools posit different orthodoxies; for example, the neo Malthusians believe that orthodoxy is a belief in the markets capability of contending with and doing away with resource constraints but for the cornucopian, it is a faith in resource constraints’ permanency and immutability.

Moreover, both schools hold on to the claim that they hold a minority view and both of them take their opponents to be defending the majority (William, 1995). I tend to disagree with Malthusians view that population growth would bring problems which is not the case in the country called China. The population of China is the highest in the world and still it has been observed that it is growing economically at a very high rate. This strengthens the cornucopia’s view that population growth coincides with economic development.


  1. Muir, P. (2008). Cornucopian versus New Malthusian perspectives. Retrieved from http://people. oregonstate. edu/~muirp/cornucop. htm
  2. William, J. (1995). Population growth: A comparison of evolutionary views. Retrieved from http://www. accessmylibrary. com/article-1G1-17391343/population-growth-comparison-evolutionary. html

Cite this page

Neo Malthusian and Cornucopian Views on Resources. (2016, Sep 12). Retrieved from

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