"Concious procreation": Neo-Malthusianism in southern Europe and Latin America around 1900
Joan Martínez Alier
One main concern of Ecological Economics is the balance between human population and natural resources. This is rightly named “the Malthusian question” because Malthus predicted that human populations, if unchecked, would grow exponentially while agricultural production (and other land-based productions) would be subject to decreasing returns to the labour input. This article shows that over one hundred years ago, there was in Europe and America a successful social movement that called itself “Neo-Malthusianism”. In contrast to Malthus’ pessimism, it believed that population growth could be stopped among the poor classes by voluntary decisions. Women were entitled to choose the number of children they wanted to have. The movement did not appeal to the State to impose restrictions on population growth. On the contrary, in Southern Europe it was based on “bottom up” activism against governments and the Catholic Church.
Population growth. Demographic transition. Malthus. Feminist neo-malthusianism. Birth control. Anarchism.
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