Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 June 2012
The following three chapters focus on the various relationships between population and socio-economic development. Chapters 6 and 7 deal with health and education. In this chapter, we discuss the relationships between population growth and economic development.
The chapter opens with a discussion of global demographic trends, which indicates that in the next 150 years world population will increase by a further 4 billion people, before stabilising around 2150. Subsequently, we discuss the economic consequences of population growth and demographic change. We contrast pessimistic Malthusian perspectives which argue that population growth is a threat to sustained economic development, with more optimistic assessments which indicate that technological change has the potential to outpace the growth of population. The second half of the chapter focuses on explanations of why families in developing countries have so many children. These explanations serve as guidelines for the formulation of population policies, which form the topic of the last section of this chapter.
As an introduction to this chapter on population and development, we distinguish eight types of relationships between demographic and economic developments, which are summarised in Box 5.1. Apart from population growth, population size and population density are also important demographic variables. Several countries in Latin America and Africa have rapid population growth, but relatively low population density. Low population density discourages large-scale investment in infrastructure. Population size influences the absolute volume of required investment and the size of domestic markets.