During the first three centuries of the modern era, from 1690 – 1990, the world population has multiplied five times, from 1 to more than 4. 5 billion. Over this time span the population of Europe increased six times, and of Europe and European occupied areas in the Western Hemisphere and Oceania combined about eight times. The population of North America increased about 160 times and that of Latin America about fourteen times.
During the same period, the population of Asia increased by less than 4 times (however, this contrasts with what must have been a much less rapid increase earlier. The absolute increase in Asia however was very large. ) In Africa, the population merely doubled. It is clear that greatly accelerated growth occurred first among the nations that first experienced modernization – the combination of”revolutions,” including the agricultural revolution, commercial revolution, science revolution, and the technological revolution. Explosive population growth, th!e “vital revolution” – a pace of growth without precedent in long settled areas – did not approach nations in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, until after Wold War I and especially after World War II.
Rapid growth has been one of the three related population phenomena generating public concern. The two other are the increasing concentration of people on a relatively small portion of the Earth’s surface – a phenomenon of better urbanization and mertopolitanization and growing diversity of the people who share the same geographical area and increasingly, the same economic, social, and political systems. World population growth is entirely the result of natural increase – the excess of births over deaths. If mortality declines rapidly and there is a high birth rate in any given country, there will become a heavy child burden that marks the beginning of overpopulation. The reasons for this remarkable change are not entirely clear. One cause was certainly the widespread control and virtual elimination of Malaria and other insect-carried disease.
Other causes were widespread use of vaccines and modern drugs in less developed countries. There also has been speculation that human beings have developed more immunity to some microbial diseases that the virulence of some microorganisms has declined. The disadvantages of high birth rate are not generally admitted for two reasons. First there is and ideological prejudice against admitting that a high birth rate can in any way be harmful, and so anti nationalist policy does not generally appeal to politicians.
Secondly, there is widespre!ad belief that an ever-greater pool of manpower is a military and economic asset to a nation. It therefore comes as a shock to many people to hear it maintained that one of the demographic factors weakening a nation’s powers is a birth. No one can maintain that a pre-industrial birth rate is always and in every way disadvantageous. In certain instances, it may be an asset. But an analysis of the effect of birth rates on a nation’s efficiency will show that in most cases today the advantage lies with a low rather then a high rate.
The rapid population growth has economic, social, and political effects. It also interacts with public education, health, and welfare, and the qualities in which people live. Economic Consequences:Rates of population growth in many less developed countries are at least half the rate of economic growth and in some cases equal the latter. Chiefly because of high fertility of these countries, the ratio of children to adults are very high when compared with these ratios in developed countries, and the numbers of these young people reaching the age of labor force participation are rapidly increasing. Both of these factors produce serious economic problems and consequences.
Rapid population growth slows the growth of per capita incomes in less developed countries and tends to perpetuate inequalities of income distribution. It holds down the level of savings and capital investment in the means of production, which limits the rate of growth of gross national product. An increase in labor force does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in production. If the ratio of labor to productive capital is already high, as in the case in developing countries, more entrants to t!he labor force may mean more unemployment and underemployment.
An even larger amount of workers cannot be absorbed in the modern (industrialized) sector. They’re forced into unproductive service occupations or back into the traditional (agricultural) sector with it’s low productivi. . . .
. ty and bear subsistence wage levels. Large supplies of cheap labor tend to hold back technological change, and industrialization is slowed by mass poverty, which reduces the demand from manufactured goods. For example, in India it is estimated that eight million new jobs were created from 1956 – 1961, but the working population increased by ten million in the same period.
Low savings rates and low labor skills inhibit the full development and utilization of natural resources in some countries, while in others the growing populations out run the levels at which the renewable resources can be sustained, and the resource base deteriorates. Widespread poverty, the low productivity of labor, the growing d!emands for food, and the slow industrialization degrades and hurts the international trade of the less developed countries. Writing in the eighteenth century England, Malthus saw famine, war and pestilence as the inevitable deterrents to excessive population growth. Today, once more there is a grave question whether continued growth of world population will not out run our food supply.
Long-term projections of food supplies are unreliable. We can only roughly estimate the current rate of growth of agricultural output. India with more than 450 million people will have more than 150 million more people in the next 15 years. Thus, in the next 15 years India will have to find a way of feeding an increase in population about equivalent to the present population of the United States. It is entirely possible for India and most of the countries in the world to grow or to import enough food at least to keep the people from starving in the next few decades.
Nevertheless, this would require a revolution in traditional agricultural technological, as well as arrangements of land tenure, credit, marketing, and !transportation. The future of the world’s supply of raw materials other than food is also difficult to visualize, but the situation is far from hopeless. The world’s entire stock of fossil fuels maybe depleted in 150 years, but alternate energy sources, produced by atomic fission, possibly atomic fusion, and even by the sun would probably mean that there would be sufficient energy for the world’s use in the future. The whole of the oceans and at least the top ten kilometers of the Earth’s crust would be available to provide a wide choice of building materials. The process of economic development has historically involved the movement of people form the countryside to the cities in response to the opportunities to gain industrial employment.
(Urbanization) From 45 % to 90 % of the population of the poor countries lives in rural areas, but the rate of growth of cities in these countries exceeds their overall rate of population growth. Large-scale urban migration takes place in the developing countries; much of the mass movement to the cities is not inspired by the call of employment, but by the hope that government relief will be available there. Nowhere is the consumption of water, air, and soil as high and nowhere is the environment as heavily burdened with waste and sewage as in the cities. The parts of these cities that will increase most rapidly will be the already huge impoverished areas – the favelas and slums.
The number of urban poor in developing countries is suspected to grow form 330 million in 1990 to about 1 billion. Social Effects:Large-scale internal migration and rapid urbanization are among the most important social effects of rapid population growth. Social mobility is thwarted by continuing widespread poverty. Only a fraction of the growing population can be absorbed into the modern sector, because of this the numbers of people in the traditional sector rapidly increase and the gap between the two continually widen. Of the two “nations” one is relatively well off and the other is backwards and poor, exists side by side in the same nation. The consequences of rapid population growth for the family depend heavily upon the associated changes that may be occurring in the society and economy.
For example, the arithmetic of child dependency will very much be changed if society were to prescribe child education and proscribe child labor. Both developments would institutionalize the rights of individuals, specifically the new generation, over the claims of family obligations. Occupational opportunities ou!tside the family farms will be another blow to the parent child relationship. Such changes would bring into question the pattern of traditional obligations of families to parents and place particular strain on the central parental generation. Which feel bound by the traditional demand of the parents without any compensating claims on the children. The new demographic situation of mortality decline and rapid growth may represent problems within a family.
From one standpoint this idea may be viewed as a grave consequence of population growth; from another standpoint it may be regarded as a necessary step in transforming the social structure to make the new equilibrium one of the low fertility and mortality. Political Problem:Political and social conflicts among different ethnic, linguisitc, religious, and social groups are greatly worsened by rapid population growth. Political stresses are increased by the rural – urban migration which is partially caused by this growth, and increasing demands for governemnt services.