LOWER SIXTH - KGP SCHEDULE, WEEKS 2-9
MODULE 1 THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE
10.2 PEOPLE AND THE ENVIRONMENT -POPULATION AND RESOURCES - BOSERUP (OPTIMISTIC VIEW)
Outline an optimistic approach to the relationship between population and resources.

Ester Boserup is well known for her modern approaches to the relationship between population and resources, as first published in 1965. Essentially Boserup puts forwards a theory that necessity is the mother of invention, talking about 'the vicious circle of sparse population and primitive techniques'. Contrary to the pessimistic approach of Malthus, stating that while unmanaged human population could grow exponentially, food supply could only grow at an arithmetic rate, Boserup states that technical, economic and social changes are unlikely to take place unless the community concerned is exposed to the pressure of population growth. Boserup's approach is backed up by examples where an increase in population, has caused an agricultural growth, necessitated by the increased demand on resources of a larger population: In her thesis, The Conditions of Agricultural Growth, she states that 'population growth is here regarded as the independent variable which in its turn is a major factor determining agricultural developments'.

Development had previously been seen as the transformation of traditional communities by the introduction of new technologies, but Boserup argued that improvements and changes occur from within communities, and are not only governed by outside influence, but also by these communities themselves.
Boserup's model has been criticised as explaining specific cases, but being less general in its applicability than the Malthus model, since there are also cases where there is a dense, rapidly growing population, and techniques inadequate to feed it properly.

Benedict Lumley

Bibliography
W. Peterson (1995), 'Population' (3rd edition), Macmillan
Ross, Eric B (1998), 'The Malthus Factor', Zed Books
http://www.earthscan.co.uk/books/159_X.html


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