There is a riddle in Franklin's treatment of population. He maintained that the tendency of populations to expand until checked by the lack of subsistence was a cause of European miseries, yet be advocated rapid population growth for the American colonies. When his population theory is highlighted, he appears as a Malthusian pessimist; when his population values are highlighted, he appears as an ardent expansionist. The contradictory elements in his writings are brought into accord by viewing them as the response of a generation to the distinctive situation it encountered. Franklin is assessed to be an advocate who shaped population theory to further the policy agenda of mid-eighteenth-century Americans. It is suggested that such a policy influence on theory is not unique to Franklin or his contemporaries.
Population and Development Review
Hodgson, Dennis, "Benjamin Franklin on population: From policy to theory" (1991). Sociology & Anthropology Faculty Publications. 33.
Hodgson, Dennis. "Benjamin Franklin on population: From policy to theory." Population and Development Review 17, no. 4 (December 1991): 639-661.