Essay : Population and Economic Development

Population and Economic Development

Introduction : Demographers and economists have much interest in the relations of population growth to economic development. Economists are of the view that population growth may have both positive and negative effects on the process of economic development. A good amount of developed human resource is the pre-requisite for economic development. But unplanned growth of population may deter the economic growth of a country. So, both overpopulation and underpopulation stand as obstacles to economic development.

The population growth and economic development in Bangladesh : The fast growth of population during the past decades has frustrated and development efforts in Bangladesh. In 1971, the population of the country was around 7.5 crores which rose to about 14 crores today.
At present, the growth rate is around 1.6 percent. Present infant mortality rate is 78 per thousand children. The life expectancy at birth is around 62 years.
This unprecedented growth has some serious consequences as-
  1. The present density of 1090 persons per square Km. will be increased and further lowdown the present land man ratio which is one of the lowest in the world.
  2. The existing unfavorable age structure of population will further be aggravated with a large population of under age 15.
  3. Under the constant rate of fertility, the number of school-going age will grow rapidly. The existing educational facilities need to be double to maintain even current level of literacy.
Overpopulation and the problem of economic development in Bangladesh : Since our economy is poor, capital is scarce and labor is abundant, population growth has been directly or indirectly supported at the cost of economic development Such as-
  1. Population and per capita income : The impact of the present rate of population growth on per capita income in Bangladesh is unfavorable. The growth of population tends to retard the per capita.
  2. Population and agricultural development : With population growth, the landman ratio becomes adverse. Disguised unemployment is also prevalent. As a result, it is reducing the per-capita productivity. Propensity to save and invest.
  3. Population and employment : A rapidly increasing Population plugs the economy into mass unemployment and underemployment.
  4. Population and social infrastructure : Due to scarcity of resources it is not possible to provide educational, health, medical, transport and housing facilities to the entire population.
  5. Population and labor force : The labor force in an economy is the ratio of working population to total population. A large percentage of the total population is in the lower age group of 1-15 years and hence, the dependency ratio is large.
  6. Population and capital formation : Population problem is retarding capital formation in Bangladesh. As population increases, per capita, available income decreases and people are required to feed more children with the same income.
Suggested measures : All the evils that result from overpopulation must be removed from our economy as early as possible to ensure smooth and steady economic growth. The following measures may be taken for the purpose :
  1. Family planning : Family planning programs must be implemented successfully to minimize the population problem to a great extent.
  2. Female labor force participation : Female labor force participation outside the home in non-agricultural activities has a depressing effect on fertility.
  3. Redistribution of population : The population in Bangladesh is unevenly distributed. Some areas are densely populated and some are thinly populated e.g. CHT and offshore Island etc. So, people should be induced to move out of the denser areas and settle in the areas with sparse population. However, its scope is limited.
  4. Equitable distribution of National income : Access to national wealth must be equitably distributed more, and more money should be taken away from the rich people through progressive taxation, inheritance, tax, death duty, etc. And the money so raised should be spent for the poor people in the form of free medical service, unemployment benefit, financial grant during sickness, accident, etc.
  5. Public awareness : Government, NGOs, and our civil society must be active in public awareness-building programs.
Conclusion : After above and related discussion we may come to the conclusion that population growth i.e. overpopulation is a great constraint in the way of progress and prosperity. With other programs of economic development, stress should be pressed on controlling population growth within a short period of time. For this, there is no alternative but to make the people aware about the adverse consequences of overpopulation in national life.

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