Beyond Malthus: Population and Power

Beyond Malthus: Population and Power

Beyond Malthus: Population and Power

Beyond Malthus: Population and Power

Excerpt

This book had its origin in the Dryfoos Conference on Collective Bargaining in the Public Service sponsored by Dartmouth College in the spring of 1968. One of the conferees, a municipal official of some forty years standing, offered his judgment that unionization of public employees was unnecessary in his city because he believed in following an "open door" policy, so that any employee had ready access to him to discuss whatever was on the employee's mind.

I was sufficiently taken aback to speculate, as he continued to talk, how an intelligent individual could adopt such an anachronistic point of view. It occurred to me that quite possibly he was still looking at the public service through the same eyes with which he had viewed it when he first entered on his duties four decades earlier and that his thinking, in this respect at least, had been unaffected by the growth in the size of his city and the increase in the scale and specialization of its services. From this my mind was led on to contemplate other respects in which growth in the size of a population, an increase in its density, or a shift in its composition might affect social relationships in ways which might easily be overlooked.

As an economist, I had always regarded population from a Malthusian perspective, as a pressure of people on resources. This new and quite accidentally inspired line of inquiry opened my interest to a different set of effects stemming from population changes, the pressures of people on people. This new interest, I soon found, was not unrelated to my long-standing concern with bargaining power relationships, since a major part of the problem seems to be encompassed in the broad question of the ways in which population pressures tend to redistribute power within a society or between societies.

I have found very little literature explicitly addressed to this question, except for discussion of the Lebensraum thesis in international power politics and, from an earlier date, of the influence of numbers on forms of government. I have found a large number of relevant paragraphs in studies directed to other issues, a number . . .

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