High population growth is a problem than has affected the economies of a myriad of developing countries all over the world. Poverty, insecurity, unemployment, lack of sanitation, poor health facilities, lack of adequate education facilities are all aspects of countries that face the problem of high population growth.
This paper investigates the causes of high population growth, determines the consequences of high population growth, suggests policy approaches that can be used to contain high population growth and examines the effectiveness of policies employed by China and India in a bid to curb high population growth.
Causes of high population growth
There are a number of factors that result to high population growth in countries all over the world. One of these factors is increase in the volume of food produced, and an increase in the distribution networks of food. This is a factor for overpopulation because it assures people of food security, leading to high birth rates. In addition to the high birth rates, the food security also reduces the mortality of the population, which could occur if the food accessible by the public was inadequate.
Another factor that causes high population growth is the improvement in the health of the public. This is usually correlated to the issue of water and sanitation. It is a factor because, depending on the status of public health in a certain country, disease prevalence can be predicted.
Therefore, a country in which public health is maintained will have less instances of diseases, and thus its mortality rate will be low. This translates to high population growth. Also a cause of high population growth is the level of sophistication of a nation, in terms of medical technology like antibiotics and vaccines, and also in terms of other advantages that come with education (Kinder, 2011, p. 1).
This leads to high population growth because a nation in which there is advanced, and reliable medical technology will have low mortality rates for the obvious reasons. As stated, the level of education in a nation is very important since, a society in which people are adequately learned will be free from minor problems like health complications that result from living in a filthy surrounding.
The effect of education on population is however paradoxical since lack of education is also associated with high population growth. This is because people lacking education seem to live without taking adequate and appropriate measures to curb population growth. This happens primarily because they do not understand the negative effects that population has on all realms of life, and also because they may not have sufficient knowledge about population control methods.
With this discussion, the direct (main) causes of high population growth can be identified. These include, low mortality rates, high life expectancy, high birth rates, migration etcetera.
Consequences of high population growth on economic development
High population growth has far-reaching consequences on the economy of any country that it affects. The effects of high population growth on developed and developing countries are different in terms of nature, extent, and even possible solutions.
A significant percentage of the increase in the population of developed countries is made up of immigrants, both illegal and legal. This is because these countries have numerous manufacturing plants, and a lot of positions for menial jobs that do not attract local population.
People from developing countries therefore migrate to developed countries like the United States, European countries etc, to fill those vacancies. Although the benefit of immigrants to the economy of the developed countries is still a controversial issue, these people affect the economy of developed countries in a number of ways.
For instance, by providing cheap labour to the manufacturing plants, the population of immigrants boost the manufacturing industry, which in turn boosts the economy of the country. On the other hand, immigrants, both illegal and legal have caused a variety of social problems for the developed countries (Easterlin, 2006, p. 23). For instance, population increase due to an increase in the number of immigrants is associated with high rates of crime, drug trafficking, etcetera.
The aforementioned existence of jobs in manufacturing plants has also led to high urbanization rates for developed countries. This also has its economic repercussions for the developed countries. For instance, high urbanization rates are associated with high crime rates, decadence of societal morals, and even high population growth. These effects have serious implications for the development of the economy.
First of all, high population growth makes it difficult for developing countries to provide sufficient social structures to the public. This is because such countries are forced to attend to large numbers of people in the growing population amid limited resources. For instance, in a developing country with high population growth, it is more likely that there the educational facilities in the countries will be inadequate. This will be especially so for minority groups like women.
As a result of inadequate educational facilities, the public will not get the required education, and thus the economy of the country will be adversely affected since education is a prerequisite to economic development because it provides skilled labour. The lack of adequate facilities for education will also fuel population growth since uneducated people tend to be more fertile than their educated counterparts (Easterlin, 2006, p. 34).
Another economic consequence of high population growth is the frequent occurrences of famines in highly populated countries. The famine affects a large part of the population, which is also poor. This kind of a situation then worsens some other factors like the malnutrition of children, use of child labour or even maternal and childhood mortality.
In such a situation, governments in developing countries are forced to use resources in emergency measures against such effects as famine. This makes the government to forego other important economic activities in order to mitigate effects of famines, malnutrition etcetera.
High population growth has also been seen as a cause of political instability due to weak governance, and regional warfare. This is because communities and individuals are more likely to fight for scarce resources as the population grows. This is because the resources continuously become insufficient to serve the needs of the population as it grows.
The phenomenon of high population growth is also associable with high rates of unemployment, which is a great set-back to the efforts made by the developing countries in a bid to industrialize (Easterlin, 2006, p. 39).
The above mentioned factors lead many developing countries to seek economic assistance, or foreign aid, from then developed countries. Despite the fact that the usefulness of foreign aid in the economic advancement of developing countries is controversial, foreign aid remains a burden for the country seeking it. The countries may even be made to agree to terms they are nit comfortable with in order to get economic assistance.
From the discussion above, it is apparent that high population growth has a lot of negative effects to the economies where it occurs. There is thus an urgent need for a more nuanced approach in policy making to ensure that population growth is effectively checked, and also ensure that its effects on the economy of countries are mitigated.
For developed countries, the main causes of high population are immigration and rural-urban migration. Since these two work together to bring about devastating effects on the economy, policies should be developed for addressing the problems they bring, while utilizing the advantages that they bring.
For instance, for the immigration problem, governments in developed countries should ensure that proper immigration policies are developed so that the government can keep track of, and be able to control immigration. This can be done by either eradicating or reducing the number of illegal immigrants (Todaro, 1997, p. 20).
This will ensure that any policies that the government develops in relation to manufacturing plant workers, is based on factual information, and thus it is not misguided by wild estimations. Such a strategy is bound to reduce or eliminate the economic disadvantages posed by immigration, and make the latter a resource that can be utilized to better the economy.
For the rural-urban migration, governments in developed countries should develop appropriate policies that will ensure that the negative effects of urban migration are mitigated. A potential project objective within such a policy is to increase the number of police in urban areas, as well as to increase increased in order to reduce crime rates. Other aspects of urban congestion like maintaining sanitation standards must also be observed.
For the developing countries, a lot needs to be done in order to mitigate the effects of high population growth. Among the policy approaches that can be taken is an attempt to reduce the population growth itself. This can be done by employing a variety of means.
These means include, greater advocacy for the use of family planning methods, provision of family planning facilities to the public, development of policies encouraging a minimum number of children, accompanied by incentives for those who uphold it, etcetera. In addition to this, governments in developing countries may ensure that there is progressive improvement in the provision of education facilities and services, because this can potentially lead to low population growth (Todaro, 1997, p. 21).
Just like in the developed countries, developing countries also need to develop strict policies on immigration in a bid to reduce their high population growth. This is because political instability and economic factors has led to high immigration rates in these countries.
A reduction in the number of immigrants entering a country in a year will lead to low population growth, or even population decline, which will, in turn lead to a better economy which is shown by high per capita GDP, and improvement of other economic indicators.
Similarly, governments in developing countries should also develop policies that are aimed at reducing the rate of rural-urban migration. Some of the policies that can be employed include the devolvement of the government in countries where devolved governments are not in existence. This will help in mitigating the undesirable effects of high population growth.
A policy for employment creation is also bound to have a positive effect on population growth since people tend to be more fertile when they are idle. In addition to this, people in poverty also tend to be more fertile than people who are not poor. Governments in developing countries should therefore develop employment creation n policies as a way of reducing population growth, and its effects on their economy (Todaro, 1997, p. 23a).
There is also a need for a strict policy for monitoring and feedback. This will ensure that any good policies for curbing high population growth rate can be evaluated to see if the desired impact is being realized.
Approaches adopted in India and China
Among the countries that have struggled with high population growth are India and China. China has the highest population in the world followed by India. These two countries have tried to implement policies aimed at reducing population growth. Let us examine how effective these policies have been.
Between the years 1972 and 1977, the government of India imposed a policy for forced sterilization. This program did not receive backing from the public, and thus it did not achieve much. This was subsequently replaced by voluntary family planning integrated with better maternal and child healthcare.
A study of Indian population after implementation of the aforementioned programs does not reveal much success as the population has always been on the rise. This can be attributed to the failure by the Indian government to implement the programs at grass root level. Early in the last decade, the government of India suggested stripping of states with high population growth of their voting rights.
This is an unrealistic approach that can potentially cause more harm than good. The one-child family policy has not seen much success since the incentives promised by the government for one-child families and families with restricted sizes have not been given much attention (Kumar, 2003, p. 1).
As stated, China has experienced, more or less, the same problems as India. However, China’s policies and programs are far off more effective than those of India.
Among the policies than China has used to reduce its population growth is the informal policy that dictates that couples living in urban areas have one child, and their counterparts in rural areas have two children, on condition that the first one is a girl. However, people belonging to ethnic minorities are permitted to have a maximum of three children due o their special circumstances.
This policy has resulted in abortions and sterilization for both men and women who already have kids. This policy has even employed coercion to make people obey it, as people unwilling to procure abortions have, oftentimes, been forced to procure abortions. Although this policy is, kind of, undemocratic, it has achieved substantial success in China (Kumar, 2003, p. 1).
As evidenced in the discussion above, high population growth has adverse effects on the economy of a nation. Policies developed to reduce population growth and its effects should be realistic, and they should be supported by the public in order for them to have the desired effects. It is thus of essence for countries to employ a consultative approach in formulating population reduction policies.
Easterlin, Richard. 2006. Effects of Population Growth on the Economic Development of Developing Countries. University of Pennsylvania.
Kinder, Carolyn. 2011. The Population Explosion: Causes and Consequences . New Haven Teachers Institute. http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1998/7/98.07.02.x.html
Kumar, Ramana.2003. India and China: Population Growth.
Todaro, Michael. 1997. Development Policy and Population Growth: A Framework for Planners. Population and Development Review.