The excess of productive capacity over wants, creating for each generation a surplus of wealth, allows it to rear a new generation more numerous than itself.
Today’s quote is extracted from a note by Frédéric Bastiat that the editor of the Economic Harmonies added at the end of the chapter. It follows a reflexion on what is progress, which is the base of the recurring optimism of the author.
According to the editor, it illustrates the disagreement between Bastiat and Malthus. The latter was pessimistic over the future of population because he had omitted to take economic progress into account (and we know now that it exploded right after he wrote his Magnus Opus). However, there exist multiple “infinite” phenomena that do not allow to predict the future but have proven to be essential in the past to explain how humanity has evolved.
To be able to note that today is less precarious than yesterday leads to think that tomorrow will be richer than today. This trend, scattered with ups and downs, can be observed in the past – there is no reason to believe that it will end anytime soon.
Other quotes from Population:
Malthus – Ignorance – Reality – Prevention – Hubris – Wealth