The article describes two contrasting developments of Adam Smith's ideas. Condorcet, following Turgot's reforms of the 1770s, described a theory of social equality based on free competition, public instruction, and social security, and proposed a system of social insurance establishments. Malthus in his Essay on Population criticized Condorcet's ideal of social security, arguing that social insurance would reduce industry and lead to increased population. The conflict over fear versus confidence as incentives to industry was of central importance to subsequent disputes in political economy. These disputes are enlightening, it is suggested, for modern problems. They cast doubt, first, on the presumption that social security is inimical to economic development. Second, while they provide some support for the modern view that social security tends to reduce fertility, they suggest that this effect is associated more generally with social and political equality. Third, they suggest that the politics of laissez faire is compatible with criticism both of government and of powerful corporate and local institutions.
Founded in 1975, Population and Development Review seeks to advance knowledge of the interrelationships between population and socioeconomic development and provides a forum for discussion of related issues of public policy. Combining readability with scholarship, the journal draws on high-level social science expertise-in economics, anthropology, sociology, and political science-to offer challenging ideas, provocative analysis, and critical insights. Each issue includes a lively collection of book reviews and an archives section that brings to light historical writings with a resonance for contemporary population debate. Supplements to the journal also are available.
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