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Karl Heinrich Marx (1818-1883) in his long-term pursuit, he developed a theory of population growth while formulating the concept of communism. Marx was famous known as 'Father of Communism'. He came to the conclusion of 'Surplus Population Theory' by sharply criticizing the theory of Malthus.


Main Theory

According to Marx, high birth rate is not the only reason behind the population growth of a country. Capitalistic economic system is equally responsible. To him, there are two classes in a society – rich and poor.

Rich or capitalists are the owner of land. They give a little percentage of the productivity to the labours as wage, and they consume the maximum for themselves. By this way, the capitalists try to increase the surplus value of productivity by using machinery. Surplus value refers to the difference between the productivity of labours and their wages. Thus unemployment rapidly increases due to the growing use of machinery. By this time, if the wage rate gets down, then basically a huge percentage of population becomes surplus population. If the capital is being stored in the hands of a certain class, then the surplus population will continue to grow at a faster pace.

Marx said that, only ignorance of poor community was not responsible for population growth, rather than the capitalistic economic system is more responsible. He mentioned that, Zamindari system, high man-land ratio, uncertainty about land ownership, fragmentation of farms, etc. are liable for low production of food in a country. When food production is not sufficient, population growth becomes a problem.

According to him, poverty and sufferings are not natural phenomenon, it is the result of capitalistic system. At the rate at which the population grows, the capitalistic system cannot provide employment opportunities. That is why unemployment increases. By this way, it is impossible to eliminate discrimination in society. Marx thinks it is possible only through communism.


Marx's theory contradicts the system of capitalists in many ways. The changing systems he used to establish his theory are as follows :

  • Accumulation of capital
  • Demand of labor
  • Percentage of population growth
  • Level of wage
  • Birth rate and death rate

Marx assumed that a different population policy works in the historical background of each production system. The changing systems, mentioned by him, variably changes the pattern of employment in the capitalistic society.


Though he established his theory by criticising the theory of Malthus, Marx's theory also has criticised as follows :

  1. According to Thompson and Lewis, there is no doubt about Marx's point that the capitalist system is the reason behind the poverty. But the attempt to dismiss the Malthusian theory was not acceptable.
  2. Main aim of Marx was to overthrow the capitalist system, so he blamed only that as the cause of surplus population. He completely overlooked the other reasons. Hence, many critiques said that the the cause of population growth was not so obvious.
  3. From the perspective of many social scientists, contempt to the capitalist system and blind support to the communism, Marx's philosophy has become baseless and deviates from the reality.

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