Malthus and the uses of British emigration
in Empire, migration and identity in the British world
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Thomas Robert Malthus was an equivocal advocate of emigration. Malthus was a keen observer of the course of emigration from the British Isles at the end of the eighteenth century. The Malthusian world was a pre-industrial world in which population growth seemed always most likely to outstrip and swamp any achievable economic growth. There were numerous categories of migration out of Britain, often associated with different dynamics, moving with different velocities and under widely different pressures. Malthus was adamant about the self-defeating consequences of emigration and drew on cases from the West Highlands of Scotland, most notably the island of Jura. The process of emigration was accompanied by the relative decline of agricultural employment in the region. Malthus's outline of the social psychology of the migration was applicable especially in the case of the Isle of Skye.


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