The Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus FRS (13 February 1766 - 23 December 1834) was an English cleric and scholar, influential in the fields of political economy and demography. Malthus himself used only his middle name Robert.
Malthus became widely known for his theories about change in population. His An Essay on the Principle of Population observed that sooner or later population will be checked by famine and disease, leading to what is known as a Malthusian catastrophe. He wrote in opposition to the popular view in 18th-century Europe that saw society as improving and in principle as perfectible. He thought that the dangers of population growth precluded progress towards a utopian society: "The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man". As a cleric, Malthus saw this situation as divinely imposed to teach virtuous behaviour.