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Neo-malthusianism was originally used to mean population limitation by birth control and/or abortion. Currently it may be used as a label for those who are concerned that overpopulation may increase resource depletion or environmental degradation to a degree that is not sustainable with the potential of ecological collapse or other hazards.

It originates from the ideas of Thomas Robert Malthus. The malthusian theory suggests a relationship between the growth of population and food. Thomas Malthus argued that population growth is geometric (1→2→4→8), and agricultural growth is arithmetic (1→2→3→4); therefore, population growth will increase at such a rate that eventually there will not be enough food for the population.

The rapid increase in the global population of the past century (and its continued increase) complement Malthus' predicted population patterns. And also it appears to describe demographic dynamics of complex pre-industrial societies. These findings are the basis for neo-malthusian modern mathematical models of long-term historical dynamics (see, e.g., Peter Turchin 2003; Peter Turchin et al. 2007; Korotayev et al. 2006). The Club of Rome has been called Neo-Malthusian.

One early critic of Neo-Malthusian theory (by which he meant birth control and abortion), was Vladimir I. Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Party and main architect of the Soviet Union (see, e.g., Vladimir I. Lenin "The Working Class and Neo-Malthusianism", 1913.)

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