Srishti Tiku | Mar 5, 2021 | 0
Population growth and its social implications
Human-beings are the most heavily populated species on this planet today, maybe in all of geological history. With numbers climbing geometrically with the turn of every century, it stands to reason how long the planet with persevere without running out of resources.
The Earth’s population was recorded at 1 billion in 1800, only two centuries later, that population has spiked to 7.8 billion people. These numbers are alarming and continue to grow at unprecedented levels. With increasing population there is consistently increasing strain on the planet and its resources available to us. Naturally, the welfare per person on a world scale will drop so significantly that only a few will be able to live, while the rest struggle to survive.
Thomas Malthus, a prominent economist of the 18th century, in his book, ‘ An Essay on the Principle of Population’ observed that the ability of the population to grow demands an increase in resources like food, this interdependent relationship has drastic repercussions for the planet as while population continues to grow, the planet with its limited resources struggles to keep up with demand. This leads to rising product prices, falling wages and smaller increments in outputs per worker. This is just one of the effects of population increase on food security and availability.
In a more practical sense, with steadily increasing population and slowly dwindling resources and area per person, the resources must further get divided into smaller denominations to cater to everyones need. This practice in the long run is unsustainable as one time or another we will run out of space and other necessities required to support the population. This means more people fighting for the same resources. This translates into severe social implications like threat to security, peace, justice, etc., and a whole new system will need to be put into place.
These concerns are especially relevant in a country like India, which boasts of the second largest and the fastest growing population in the whole world. China, who currently hosts the largest population has strategically placed policies like ‘One Child policy’ and have slowly but surely curbed their population. India, being a developing country already struggles for resources and basic necessities, for it to be able to support a population this large in the near future is statistically impossible.
So, what really ARE the social implications of high population?
Historians time and again stress on the implication of lack of resources. If we follow precedence, whenever man has been forced to fight for basic needs, it has led to civil war. Famine, disease and natural disasters have followed in the wake of these casualties. In a study, Review of Economic Studies, the effect of population growth on conflict in over 60 countries in various regions of the world are studied. The results clearly show that the effect of population increase on social conflict is sizeable and very prominent.
Rising population threatens basic necessities like availability of water, food, medical care, shelter, etc. After these, social issues which are at threat due to the rising population are highlighted. An increase in the population leads to an increase in crime rate which is a threat to security. It means fewer jobs, more unemployed people, lesser wages, discontentment within the masses and people forced to resort to thievery or other crimes in order to feed themselves. This kind of desperation provokes unkind behaviour which leads to a spike in crime rate. Amidst this, stems fear and uncertainty which is a threat to security and peace of the people. This results in more cases, lesser judicial/police control and longer time for justice and policies to be put in place for people to abide to a system. We are due to descend in utter chaos if population remains unchecked.
The Sustainable Development Goals have been put into place in order to provide basic necessities to the people and improve the standard of living of the masses. They focus on areas like poverty, hunger, equality and building safe and resilient communities for everyone. If population continues to remain unchecked, it would set these goals back by decades. We have enough precedence to maintain that a surge in population would increase disease and natural calamities substantially. A better approach to control population is needed. Worldwide policies need to be mandated and executed. Targets need to be set and followed through. Statistically reduction in birth rate is the best prospect at raising global standards of living. These measures need to be put into effect uniformly and swiftly all over the world in hopes of a better tomorrow.