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Thomas Malthus publishes An Essay on the Principle of Population
Thomas Malthus publishes his most famous work, An Essay on the Principle of Population, which introduces the idea of natural population control. Malthus theorizes that human populations grow exponentially until consumption needs exceeds available supplied of resources. Overpopulation then induces various natural “checks” to reduce numbers. “Preventive checks” included social and cultural adaptations – measures to delay marriage and encourage abstinence, for example – while “positive checks” are factors that actively reduce the population such as famine, war, and disease. Malthus publishes five more editions of the book up to 1826, while continuing to refine his ideas. His work exerts a tremendous influence on later naturalists such as Alfred Russell Wallace and Charles Darwin, who are careful to harmonize their theories of natural selection with the principles of Malthusian population dynamics.