In 2008, the world population was well over 6.5 billion, and it is expected to reach 10 billion by the year 2050. The consequences of this population growth are heatedly debated across the world. Ideally, the effects of such increased population include impediments on economic development, and the repercussions on the environment. Although it has been argued that high population density enhances labor productivity, the adverse effects of overpopulation are numerous on the available resources in the economy.
Demographic differentials explain in large part economic divergence and aggravate the effects of the geographical factors. The countries with high demographic growth have the highest illiteracy rates and the lower schooling rates. This is not accidental: it is a consequence of the vicious circle of underdevelopment. Short on capital, these countries lack the resources to educate their population, which also does not demand any preparation. Poor families do not have the means to instruct their children, and seldom do they appreciate the usefulness of education. In addition, girls are less schooled in those societies, and it is well known that educated young women have fewer children, care for them better, and provide them with educational incentives, as such, poverty creates overpopulation and meager investment in human capital, which is in turn the cause of poverty. The exactly opposite mechanisms operate in the rich countries (Nathan & Lenore, 2011 p3146).
The effects of overpopulation on natural resources are diverse; ranging from depletion of agricultural land, depletion of minerals, and deforestation. Regarding agricultural land, the total land area of a country is always fixed. A large part of the land of a country is normally used for agricultural activities. As population increases at a fast rate, larger and larger area of land is needed for dwelling units, roads factories among others. Therefore, the area of land available for agricultural activities cannot increase or at best it can be increased only marginally by making uncultivable land, cultivable. The increasing pressure of labor on land due to high growth rate of population creates many problems. It results in the subdivision and fragmentation of land holdings. For instance in India in 200-01, about 59% of the agricultural holdings were of less than one hectare. The very small size of buildings results in wastage of land and capital and productivity of land is adversely affected, the farmers having such small holdings will hardly be able to make their both ends meet and will not have resources for any investment.
Supply of land for agriculture is not increasing or at best increasingly significantly
Land is used more extensively than any other natural resource. Even land meant for grazing pasture, and open spaces are being brought under cultivation. This is done to meet the increasing requirements of food for the fast growth of population. This results in degradation of land.
Consequently, the increasing pressure on agricultural land results in disguised unemployment. The fast growth in population, on the one hand, and lack of work opportunities outside agriculture in rural areas on the other hand results in more people, than required, working in agriculture. Furthermore, when people shift from rural to urban areas in search of work, it creates many other problems. Increasing urbanization starts swallowing larger and larger area of agricultural land (Sampson, 2006 p64). This happens because more and more land is used for constructing dwelling houses and roads among others. Fast urbanization also creates many other problems such as congestion, slums, insanitation, and pollution among others. all these problems adversely affect economic growth of the developing countries.
Indeed, deforestation is another effect associated with overpopulation in the society
Forests contribute in a big way to the economic growth of a country. They help in maintain the ecological balance, besides conservation of soil. They are the source of a large variety of raw materials. Fast increase in population results in deforestation (Hamilton et al., 2010 p334). Ever increasing demand of agricultural land and fuel wood dwellings results in the felling of trees and clearing of forest areas. The process of deforestation, as a result of fast growth in population, causes soil erosion and deprives the economy of the large number of raw materials.
In addition, high growth rate of population adversely affects capital formation in developing economies. More resources are used for meeting the fast increasing consumption needs. This leaves less resource for increasing productive capacity of the economy. This adversely affects the future growth rate of these economies (Rose, 2004 p18). As such, the high growth rate slows down the pace of economic growth in the developing economies. Had population been increasing at a slower rate, the rate of economic of these economies would have been much higher and there would have been much more improvement in income levels. Thus, economic growth affects growth rate of population and rate of growth of the population affects economic growth. The developing economies are in a dilemma. As they grow, their population grows at a faster rate which adversely affects their growth process. Once they are able to check the fast growth rate of population, the economic growth would be fast and their quality of life improved.
Though reduction of the population is not an easy task for a country to mitigate overpopulation, educating the society on the importance of family planning is vital in ensuring that the resources available can be used satisfactorily. Education on family planning has been articulated by most of the developing and developed countries. When the society practices family planning, the minimal resources available can be use equally and throughout the population without any setback. In addition, the government should conduct proper planning immediately after the census on population is undertaken. This will ensure that equitable resources are distributing across the economy. It is practical that all the regions might not have the same population density, and when the government understands this disparity in population, it can budget effectively and distribute resources without discrimination. Research has shown that overpopulation is commonly felt in an environment characterized by poverty. This is because individuals who are poor cannot access employment; therefore, rendering them idle (Ming-Te & Liu, 2011 p152).
Contrary to education in society, the government needs to foster on economic development, as it is the best strategy in mitigating increase in population in the country. Ideally, economic development spurs the transition in societal demographics, which has been kwon to reduce the fertility rates across the society. Education and economic development are vital; however, research has shown that the combination of the two strategies is the most effective approach towards self-sufficiency and population control (Dolle, 2006 p128). One of the strategies incorporated by this measure includes women empowerment strategy either through economic restoration, political, educationally, or family status. The significance of the stated philosophy has been achieved in the economies that have substantially employed both the policies, as they have taken a major stride in mitigating overpopulation, in their respective countries. In the case of improvement in the status of women in society, the economy employed reduction in the birthrate to the levels that the society can sustain. Other strategies that the economy needs to undertake include sustainable agriculture, local renewable energy systems, protection of the local environment, and reforestation.