Malthus, the 18th Century European explorers andthe principle of population in Africa

  • Georges Reniers Office of Population Research, Princeton University


In the second edition of his Essay on the Principle of Population, Malthus included twelve chapters that offer a remarkable description of population dynamics from all corners of the world. His discussion of (sub-Saharan) Africa was almost entirely based on the travel accounts of James Bruce and Mungo Park, two late Eighteenth Century British explorers. In this essay, I introduce these sources and discuss the insights that Malthus did, or perhaps should have, derived from both.