The Marxian theory of population.

Karl Marx (1818-1893) was a German philosopher and founder of modern communism. His theory of population was christened as theory of surplus population. Karl Marx completely rejected Malthusian theory.

Karl Marx and Charles Darwin

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as it did not fit in a socialist society. According to Marx, there can be no natural or universal law of population. He says, “An abstract law of population exists for plants and animals along, and along in so far as man has interfered with them.” Again, “Every special historical mode of production has its own special law of population, historical valid, within its limit alone.” Thus, population theory as peculiar to the capitalist system of production. It is inherent in the capitalist system and not in production.

Marx did not believe that all hardships with which the people were suffering were due to man’s tendency to grow in numbers faster than his production of subsistence would permit. One the other hand, he lived that man’s tendency to press on the means of subsistence has due to evils of capitalism which would disappear with the emergence of communism. He related population growth with present economic system and for him both were inseparable.

Marx held that poverty and unemployment were not due to increased population, but on due to capitalist system which failed to provide jobs. Surplus population was the consequence for real production and uneven distribution of wealth and for providing jobs to only few persons.

According to Marx, in no country of the world population increases on account of fertility but it increases only on account of capitalist policies. The capitalists make labour part of their production and still something out of that. By installing labour saying machines a capitalist wants to have maximum surplus value out of that. As a result of this unemployment spreads, wage declines and poverty increases. The poor population cannot nourish their children on account of their poverty and as such the question of surplus population arises. He came to the conclusion that main cause of surplus of population was nothing else but wrong politics of the capitalists.


There is also less production of food supplies from the land due to Zamindari system where there were uncertainty about ownership of land. According to Marx, “It is working population which, while effecting that accumulation of capital, also provides means whereby it is itself rendered relatively superfluous, is turned into relative surplus population and it does so to an ever increasing extent. This is law of population peculiar to the capitalist mode of production.”

Marx also believed that in every period of production there is separate law of population. The mode of production undergoes a change from time to time which necessitates new approach to the problem of prevailing in capitalistic society, cannot be made applicable to the socialist and so on.

Marx was of the view that in a socialist society reproductive behavior would develop a complete harmony between the individual and the society.

Critical Evaluation :


It is true to great extent that in capitalist society there is surplus population on account of unemployment. Bt it is not correct to presume that under socialist system there will be no need to check population growth at any stage. Even in communist countries population growth is checked on the plea that no mother should have more children so that her health does not deteriorate. In erstwhile USSR factor workers were provided contraceptives in their factories so that birth rate was kept low.

If economic inequality is the main cause of birth rate then in these countries these rate should not differ. Because these inequalities have come to an end. The necessity of family planning is felt in these counties.

In his theory of population, Marx has criticized Malthus but his criticism does not appear to be very reasonable. TO the opinion of Lewis and Thompson, “There can be no question of sincerity of Marx’s belief in the evils of capitalism as the sole basis of poverty. Marx must have had deep-seeded doubts that Malthus views could be sufficiently disposed of by an appeal to facts and reason.”

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