This essay originally constituted the first chapter of my published lectures on political economy. As I am presently about to prepare a new edition of Volume I of these lectures, I have with great pleasure accepted an old request from the committee for the pamphlet series of the Verdandi association to publish the first chapter, duly revised, as a pamphlet. The revision concerns mainly the statistical material in the first part of the essay, which has been revised throughout and thus brought up to date as far as possible in conjunction with available statistical publications. Unfortunately, I am not an expert in this field, but since most of the data are taken from official publications, I dare hope that they are largely correct. The latter half of the essay, which contains the real scientific (Malthusian) theory of population, has not been altered, with the exception that several objections to the Malthusian theory have been briefly answered.
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