金融英语考试之金融阅读:托马斯·马尔萨斯

发布时间: 2012-03-21 12:28   来源:
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金融英语考试之金融阅读:托马斯·马尔萨斯

Thomas Malthus By the end of the 18th century, Smith’s optimistic predictions appeared to be unwarranted. When Thomas Robert Malthus (1766--1834) looked about in 1798, he could see nothing but increased misery. The incipient Industrial Revolution had already caused crowded conditions in the cities. People were working up to 110 hours per week for a meager living. Malthus concluded that Smith’s optimism was totally unjustified. The reason for the increased misery, according to Malthus, was an imbalance between the rates of growth of population and production. Malthus felt that population was growing according to a geometric progression (2, 4, 8, 16,。。.), whereas production (specifically, food)was increasing only according to an arithmetic progression (2, 4, 6, 8,…)。

The result was clear Production per capita was falling and would continue to fall until the lowest possible per capita production on which human beings could subsist was attained. Once the subsistence level of per capita production was reached, population could no longer outstrip production because “the positive checks” --that is, famine, disease, pestilence, and so forth -- would come into play to keep the population from expanding further. Moreover, any improvement is techniques, which would increase production, would simply bring about an acceleration in the rate of population growth, thereby maintaining production at the subsistence level. Malthus saw only one way out of this dreary dilemma. It was possible that “the preventive checks”, that is, birth control, could reduce the population.rate or growth below the rate of growth of production, In that case, per capita production could be maintained permanently above the subsistence level 。 In the first edition of Essay on the Principles of Population(1798), Malthus believed such a possibility was most unlikely. In later editions of the Essay he placed somewhat more emphasis on the preventive checks, but to the end of his life he was not sanguine. During the 19th and 20th centuries the Western world has not fallen victim to what has come to be known as “the Malthusian cycle”。 Population pressure has not kept per capita incomes at subsistence levels. This has been due to several factors. In the first place, the Industrial Revolution caused a huge increase in the rate of growth of production that Malthus did not foresee. Secondly, the rate of population growth decreased because of a decline in the birth rate. Be that as it may, the ”Malthusian dilemma“ remains one of the most important current economic problems. In the Far East, production has never outstripped population growth by very much. The current economic problems of India, China, and Southeast Asia are inextricably bound up with the Malthusian cycle. Further-more with the upturns in population growth in the 20th century, it may still be that the Western world will feel the pressure of population growth.

[参考译文]

到了十八世纪末叶,亚当·斯密的种种乐观主义预言看来是落空了。托马斯·罗伯特·马尔萨斯(1766—1834)环顾及798年,所能看到的只是日益贫困的惨状。初期的产业革命早已造成了城市中的人烟稠密。人们劳动每周长达110个小肘,还不得温饱。流量计

马尔萨斯断言,斯密的乐观主义毫无根据。据马尔萨斯看来,日益贫困的原因是人口与生产二者之间的增长比例失调。马尔萨斯认为,人口按几何级数 (2,4,8,16,……)增长,而生产(特别是粮食生产)却仅能按算数级数(2,4,6,8,……)增长,其结果不言而喻。按人口计算的产量一直在下降,而且要继续下降,一直降到人类仅能赖以生存的最低人均产量为止。人均产量一旦下降到仅能维持生存的水平,人口就不可能再超出生产力了,因为各种“积极抑制因素”(即饥荒,疾病、瘟疫等)就会行动起来阻止人口的进一步增长。况且,技术方面纵然有所捉高,可以增加生产,那也只能导致人口增长率的加快,从而使生产量依旧滞留在仅能维持生活的水平上。

马尔萨斯认为只有一种办法可以摆脱这种凄凉的困境。“预防性抑制因素”,即节制生育,也许可以使人口增长率下降,使之低于生产增长率。在这种情况下,人均产量就能永远地保持在维持生存的水平以上。在《人口论》的第一版(1798年)中,马尔萨斯认为这种可能性是微乎其微的。在《人口论》的以后几版中,他对预防性抑制因素多少加以强调了,但是一直到逝世的时候,他也没有自信心。

在十九世纪和二十世纪之间,西方世界尚未变成尽人皆知的所谓“马尔萨斯循环”的牺牲品,人口的压力并未使人均收入停滞在仅可维持生存的水平上。这是由几种因素造成的。首先,产业革命大大提高了生产的增长率,这一点是马尔萨斯所没有预料到的。其次,由于出生率下降,人口的增长率降低了。

尽管如此,“马尔萨斯困境”仍然是现代最重要的经济问题之一:在远东,生产从未大幅度地超过人口的增长。印度、中国和东南亚的现代经济问题都摆脱不了马尔萨斯循环论的羁绊。而且,由于二十世纪人口的增长有上升趁势,西方世界可能照旧会感到人口增长的压力。



  


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