Population Economic

Population Economic

Population The economic problems of the population of individual countries are broadly related to its size and structure-. In the economic sense a country's population may be too large or too small. A small population in a country may inhibit development through the simple and crude lack of manpower, as in the early days in North America and Australia. More significant is the limited scope for specialization and the division of labour, for as a society becomes larger the possibilities and advantages of specialization usually grow simultaneously. Conversely, an excessively large population may produce poverty and slow development because of the relative inadequacy of the physical resources of production, as in India, China and parts of Africa and South America. Larger populations can secure more output and food supplies, other things equal, only by cultivating less fertile land and employing existing land and capital more intensively. There are also economic problems in the age structure of the population relating to the ratio of young to old members of the population. Normally there are minimum and maximum age limits below which children and above which old people must be regarded as dependants; the range between these two limits contains the producers of a country. The ratio of producers to dependants is thus relevant to the well-being of a country; other things equal, the country with the higher producer-dependant ratio is better off.

Further economic problems are connected with the growth of population. It has been argued that a growing population will tend to be young and enterprising and economic progress will be correspondingly more rapid, as in nineteenth-century Britain and America. But the more serious problem at the present time is the consequence of population in parts of the world growing at an excessive rate. This problem is especially serious in parts of Asia, and India and Japan have attempted to spread knowledge of methods of birth control to check population growth.

The most famous theory of population is that of the English economist Malthus. He maintained there is a tendency for population to grow in a geometric progression and to outstrip the growth in the means of subsistence: in his view the only limit was provided by the pressure of population on subsistence. A rise in living standards would merely raise the birth rate until any gain was wiped out by an increase in human numbers. Malthus's gloomy conclusions, although influential on policy, were not supported by events. Attempts have been made since to find other mathematical 'laws' of population change; but there is now general agreement that any attempt to discover a 'law' of human population will fail unless it takes account of institutional and social conditions. ,

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