For centuries, the central debate in population politics has been whether population size and population growth is a major cause for poverty and degradation or whether population is a neutral or even a positive influence on development.
Rwanda’s current population is about 10 million which is one of the highest population densities in Sub-Saharan Africa at 365 per square kilometer. The country’s population is rising and it’s predicted to double by 2022 according the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning statistics.
Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund reveals that by October 2011, the earth’s population is expected to reach 7 billion.
“This is a global milestone and both a great opportunity and a great challenge”, he believes. The current growth rate of Rwanda is 2.7 percent and if not checked it may depress the country’s economic growth.
Economists are torn between theories; in 1965, an economist and demographer Ester Boserup asserted that certain “population pressure is a positive factor in development: the most densely populated areas in the world are the most developed”.
Another theory came up at the population conference which took place in Mexico when some influential donor countries, notably the USA, had changed their view and now see population as “a neutral factor in development”.
But since Bucharest, many developing countries had experienced a correlation between fast population growth and slow development as it could be seen to undermine economic growth.
It’s very evident in the poorest countries that massive efforts are needed to keep social and economic conditions from deteriorating further and any real advances in well-being and the quality of life are negated by further population growth.
Today many countries lack adequate supplies of basic materials needed to support their current population. The world rapid population growth has affected both the overall quality of life and the degree of human suffering on earth.
Depending on the population mostly the fewer the population, the faster the economic development.
Other economists have established that when the population is big there will be a lot of needs, also limited resources weakens the economic development due to lack of resources which resources are primarily the key for economic development.
The consequences of population growth on economic development have attracted the attention of economists ever since Adam smith wrote his ‘Wealth of Nations.’ It was only Malthus and Ricardo who created an alarm about the effect of population growth on the economy.
However, the consequences of population growth on the development of LDCs are not the same because the conditions prevailing in these countries are quite different from those in the developed economies.
Population growth adversely affects economic development in the following ways, first faster population growth makes the choice more scarce between higher consumption now and the investment needed to bring higher consumption in the future. Economic development depends upon investment.
But rapid population growth retards investment needed for higher future consumption. This is particularly the case where the majority of people are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood.
Many economists have found out that rapid population growth leads to the overuse of the land thereby jeopardizing the welfare of future generations.
This is evident even in countries where natural resources are untapped, rapidly increasing population turns it not easy to invest in roads, public services and other agricultural infrastructure needed to tap such resources. Therefore, population growth inversely affects the economic development of the nation or families.
As the world population day nears the United Nations Population Fund calls for a number of economic development strategies to be in place to reduce inequities and improving living standards for people as well as for generations to follow which will require new ways of thinking and unparalleled global cooperation.
For that reason Babatunde Osotimehin urges that nations have to work together to forge the future and safeguard the natural resources on which we all depend.