Malthus visits Rwanda

Rwanda has always struck me as the perfect example of a Malthusian economy. A dense population where land is systematically divided up among descendants, leading to tiny lots that are barely sufficient for survival.Lots are so small that new capital for its exploitation is not relevant, and no technological improvements have any significant bite. In the end the land can only support a population at the edge of famine.

Marijke Verpoorten brings an intriguing connection between the Malthusian theory as applied to Rwanda and the genocide of 1994. Using regional data, she finds that the areas where there was the most urgent population pressure (through density or growth) were also the ones with the most killings. In a way, society was taking care of a business nature and famine could have.

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