Population growth opponents often have decried the burden on resources. However, Danish economist Ester Boserup has argued that growing populations pressure society to innovate in order to better serve the masses. For instance, high-yield crops were developed to increase food production largely in response to growing populations.
Although not a direct effect of population growth, growing societies often signify healthy societies. For instance, population growth often signals lower mortality rates through advances in medicine and science. Additionally, countries that have shown a decline in population growth, like Japan, are experiencing a type of crisis.
Japan has the highest rate of centenarians in the world and their population is highest among elderly people. This has been a concern for the nation because with fewer people having children, the future of Japan is in danger. For population growth to yield positive effects, nations experiencing the growth must have sound policies to direct it. Countries that can develop better health care and medicine, strong economic plans and other social improvements that keep pace with population growth will thrive. Marc Chase is a veteran investigative newspaper reporter and editor of 12 years.
Specializing in computer-assisted reporting, he holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Southern Illinois University and a Master of Arts in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois. The world is experiencing a marked shift in demographics. High levels of population growth in developing regions such as Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean means countries here have rising proportions of youth aged By contrast, ageing populations in more developed regions such as North America and Western Europe means that the youth population in these countries is shrinking.
This will have significant implications for national and regional economic growth since developed countries must absorb the cost of social services and pensions for an ageing population while developing countries benefit from a growing working population. This demographic divide will encourage a freer flow of labour or outsourcing as businesses take advantage of a growing labour pool.
As countries develop, population growth tends to slow owing to economic and cultural factors. The time lag between improved infant mortality rates and increased use of contraception often results in a population bulge, resulting in an increase in youth populations before a subsequent decline.
In the short run, more land per agricultural worker is likely to raise labor productivity in agriculture. Long-term effects may differ because of changes in the organization and techniques of production that are induced by the relative change in factor availability. These effects may reduce the short- term gains of slower growth.
Slower Population Growth and Cities Win slower population growth, cities grow more slowly, both in the short and long run. A reduced rate of urban labor force grown in developing countries most of which is a product of natural increase among the urban population is not likely to be systematically accompanied by corresponding reductions in joblessness. However, it may increase He proportion of He urban labor force working in high-wage jobs in the modern sector of the economy and reduce He proportion working in the low-wage, infonnal sector. Environmental and climatic conditions clearly shape the local impact of population growth.
In countries such as Bangladesh, where ratios of agricultural labor to arable land are already very high, there is a presumptive case that labor productivity in agriculture will decline more rapidly with added labor than if ratios were low. Nonagricultural production possibilities, and the opportunities for trade, also affect the importance of these natural features.
Important as these natural features may be in conditioning the economic response to population growth, Hey appear to be far less important than conditions created by people. Many of the initial effects of population growth are negative, but they can be ameliorated or even reversed in the long run if institutional adjustment mechanisms are in place.
Among the most important of such mechanisms are property rights in land and properly functioning markets for labor, capital, and goods. Such markets permit the initial effects of population growth to be registered in the fonn of price changes, which can trigger a variety of adjustments, including the introduction of other factors of production that have become more valuable as a result of the increase in population; a search for substitutes for increasingly scarce factors of production; intensified research to find production processes better suited to the new conditions; reallocation of resources toward sectors e.
Of course, these adjustments may entail real costs, even when these are minimized by efficient institutions. When markets function very poorly, or do not exist, adjustments to population change are likely to be slower or to not occur at all.
These are not merely theoretical notions. Even efficient markets do not guarantee desirable outcomes. This kind of outcome underscores the role of the distribution of wealth and of human capital as a fundamental determinant of poverty. The potential value of government intervention for market regulation and for purposes of income distribution is widely acknowledged. Govemment policies in a variety of arenas clearly play important roles in mediating Me. Effects of population growth on educational enrollment and quality, on rates of exploitation of common property resources, on the development of social and economic infrastructure, on urbanization, and on research activities are all heavily dependent on existing government policies and their adaptiveness to changed conditions.
In short, the effects of rapid population growth are likely to be conditioned by the quality of markets, the nature of government policies, and features of the natural environment. Since the effects are so dependent on these conditions, a reliable assessment of many of the net effects of population growth can best be carried out at the national level, although some issues concerning the environment and resources can only be analyzed globally.
It is of interest to briefly examine and contrast Me interplay between population grown and institutions in two important areas, China and tropical Africa. China, with its extremely low arable landlpopulation ratio, is often seen as greatly in need of population control policies in order to boost per capita agricultural income; this view is reflected in the government's severe disincentives for large families.
Although it is possible Mat the resultant decline in the population growth rate has somewhat increased per capita agricultural income, these gains are probably small compared with those from agricultural reforms instituted in Over the period , the real per capita income of Me rural population increased 15 percent annually, and total agricultural output increased 51 percent U. Political independence and He forces of modernization came to tropical Africa later than to other areas.
Although some countries in other regions also share these traits, markets are generally least well developed in tropical Africa, political factionalism is greatest, and human resource potential is least developed. In parts of Africa, sparseness of population itself may be responsible for some of these difficulties, but this explanation is implausible for such countries as Ethiopia or Kenya Obviously, slowing population growth is not a substitute for solving other problems, but it can reduce some of the more extreme manifestations of these problems while they are being solved.
However, He market-induced adjustments to higher. That these over devices exist does not imply a minimal role for population grown, but it does caution against advocacy of growth as the only way to achieve them. On balance, we reach the qualitative conclusion Cat slower population growth would be beneficial to economic development for most developing counties. A rigorous quantitative assessment of these benefits is difficult and context dependent.
Since we have stressed the role of slower population growth in raising per capita human and physical capital, it is instructive to use as a benchmark the effects of changes in the ratio of physical capital per person. Using a typical labor coefficient of 0. This would be a substantial gain, but by no means enough to vault a typical developing country into Be ranks of the developed.
This simple calculation, however, does not fully reflect the complexity of Be linkages between population growth and economic development. For instance, the production function would be expected to change in ways that reduce the advantages of slower population grown.
We have reviewed considerable evidence, particularly in the agricultural sector, of how technology adapts to changes in factor proportions. In most places it is reasonable to expect slower growth in the labor force to reduce the intensity of adaptive response in the form of land improvement, instigation, and agricultural research.
On the other hand, the calculation does not reflect increases in production due to the healthier and better educated work force Mat would result from lower fertility. None of these models embodies the more.
Careful scientific research is needed both to beuer quantify and to further elucidate most of the relationships discussed in this book. Research is especially needed on urbanization and the consequences of urban growth; savings and the formation of physical capital; the effect of population grown on health, education, and the development of human capital; and the nature and extent of extemalities of childbearing.
Such research would be appropriately supported by mission-oriented development organizations as well as by basic research agencies. Whether the economic problems posed by population grown are large or small, and whether they are best approached by slowing the population grown rate, depends ultimately on the costs of alternative policy responses. We now turn to outline those responses.