Is OVERPOPULATION The Real Cause Of Poverty?

Well, when you eye this question for the first time, you may get the answer that yes, overpopulation is the cause of poverty. It is obvious, big family leading to gigantic expenditures, grocery, education, entertainment, even taxes multiplied. Its adherents include a lot of well-educated people and intellects, even the government’s officials use it sometimes to justify their failure to reduce poverty. But the question remains, is this what it seems to be?

Let’s get started with dumping the word population because it certainly doesn’t gives any idea about size of the land in which population resides. Some countries like Russia have a very large area and some are like Singapore having a smaller one. So the more appropriate term to entertain this topic would be population density i.e. population per unit of area.

Using this indicator one may find, for example, that Belgium has a very high population density, Pakistan lies in the middle, and Somalia at the bottom. Of these countries, Belgium is not the one with most difficulties. Nor does Somalia has the fewest. Just looking at population or the population density tells us very little about a society’s problems.

Within individual countries we can find same examples. Say if you take Pakistan, Baluchistan has the lowest population or population density, taken any of them. But Baluchistan is by no means better off than the other provinces of Pakistan because of its low population and population density.

This raises an interesting issue for the people who supply the word that overpopulation causes poverty. And the issue is that with such abundant supply of natural minerals, petroleum and other resources, wouldn’t be Baluchistan more prosperous if on its own, like a separate sovereign state? And after you put up this argument, they abandon their cause and try to find other excuses that are causing poverty.

Consider another situation, when Pakistan was divided, Pakistan lost more than half of its population and small part of its area which was believed to be a drain to the Pakistan’s resources. Such a removal of population and getting rid of an economy sucking black hole did Pakistan went on a upgrade boom?  And if not, why not? The simple relationship between population and development fails to give the answer.

The second part to consider here is that even the population density isn’t enough to explain because all the land in a country is not equally developed and prosperous. The deserts and the mountains doesn’t count much but it is the habitable and the cultivatable area that matters.

China and Japan. China is the most populous country on earth but still has such a cruising economy and the latter, doesn’t has that much of land but remains in the top most economies of the world. This hypothesis again fails to prove its worth.

As a matter of fact, one could plausibly argue that overpopulation is not the cause of poverty, rather poverty causes overpopulation. You can even generally see that as the households become economically better off the average family size tends to decrease.

In fact, a larger population can be made a strength. Many European countries are trying to encourage people t increase their family sizes. Global firms are keener to invest in highly populated countries such as India and China. The issue is not as simple as it seems. I have given stark or maybe way extreme examples so just we could abandon this thought. Because overpopulation is the cause of poverty and even if it is, so what?

What you can do about the people who are already here? This thought, it makes us you give up so easily, rather we should see it as a strength and power. Instead of keep thinking and sowing this seed of self-helplessness, we should start investing in our own people to make the as productive as we can to promote economic development and reducing poverty.

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fahad farooq

fahad farooq