on February 14, 2004
Ross' analysis of Cold War uses of Malthusian dogma is succinct and brings a fresh and consistent analysis to, "the increasing subordination of demographic thinking to the Cold War." Ross examines the uses of the United States' Cold War policy directives which represented the underdeveloped world's demographic state (literally) as a "population bomb" needing to be defused by technicians from the North before its detonation shattered the global economic order. Further, Ross contextualizes Hardin's just-so-story of the Tragedy of the Commons as a Cold War parable passed on as empirical fact, a parable that teaches us that only private property, and an unequal distribution of resources can lead to social harmony.
The Malthus Factor is packed with detailed examples of how wide-ranging Malthus' impact on society has been, from discussions of the connections between the Green Revolution's fertilizer requirements and linkages between munitions industries and fertilizer industries, to links between the rise of the American Eugenics movement and the historical demise of American midwifery, to the roles of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations in funding the Eugenics movement. Even readers who disagrees with Ross' theoretical approach to Malthus will learn something of value from his analysis. I expect that this book will soon become required reading for any graduate student studying for exams covering both demographic theory and political economy.