SOME MORE ECONOMICS OF A CHRISTMAS CAROL. The focus of SCROOGEONOMICS on the economics of giving a present or giving cash can divert attention from other economic issues in A CHRISTMAS CAROL. Dickens was taking on one of the major economic controversies of his time (A CHRISTMAS CAROL was published in 1843.). This article by Jerry Bowyer describes the issues (and takes a few shots at applying A CHRISTMAS CAROL to current versions of the controversy, which persists). The controversy was over the validity of Malthusian economic theories. In Bowyer’s words: “Malthus famously argued that in a world in which economies grew arithmetically and population grew geometrically, mass want would be inevitable.” Scrooge’s reference to reducing the “surplus population” is the tipoff that Scrooge represents views that had been attributed to Malthus. Bowyer contrasts Scrooge’s view with a view he attributes to Adam Smith, that trade can produce economic growth. Bowyer associates this view with The Ghost of Christmas Present, who takes Scrooge to a market which sells oranges and other products from abroad.
(On a somewhat related note, we watched The Muppet Christmas Carol today, and took note of Annalisa’s post here about how that movie features a discussion of how supply and demand affects price.)