Karl Marx on population growth

From International Political Economy
Jump to navigationJump to search

While Malthus argues that people have as many children as their income allows them to care for (and some even more ignoring the laws of nature), Marx looks at a different model of fertility. According to Marx, people are forward-looking, they understand the consequences of having many children and they want the best for their children. If people experience an increase in their income, they are likely to reduce their fertility rate instead of increasing it, as they see that new opportunities are available to their child (for example going to school). Marx’s reasoning is similar to Nobel prize winning economist Gary Becker’s human capital argument, people prefer “quality” kids over quantity if they can afford to pay for the quality. However, Marx believes the low wages of the capitalist system do not give workers this incentive to decrease their fertility and the population growth further increases the labor supply and depresses wages. Thus, according to Marx, overpopulation is a normal characteristic of capitalism.