The final section discusses policy implications. As noted above, such a decline would produce at every subsequent point slower population growth, smaller population size, lower population density, and an older age structure. Working through these direct demographic effects, a reduced level of fertility is also likely to produce several other changes.
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Slower Population Growth and Exhaustible Resources Globally slower population growth may delay the time at which a particular stage of depletion of an exhaustible resource is reached. This effect does not necessarily increase the number of people who will have access to But it is important to recognize that no single exhaustible resource is essential or irreplaceable; it is valued for its economic contribution, not for its own sake.
As easily accessible reserves of natural resources are exhausted, the real cost of extraction, and hence the resource pace, rises. This price rise should stimulate the search for alternative materials.
Historically, these adaptive strategies have been extremely successful. To the extent that slower population growth results in a slower rate of resource depletion, these adaptive strategies will also occur more slowly. Hence, it seems unlikely that slower population growth will allow a larger number of people, over future generations, to enjoy a given standard of living thanks to lower natural resource prices. Slower Population Growth and Renewable Resources Slower population growth, in some cases nationally and in others globally, is likely to lead to a reduced rate of degradation of renewable common- property resources such as air, water, and species of plants and animals.
If significant amounts of land and forest resources are held in common in a country, they will also tend to be degraded less rapidly. These effects are likely to be more evident in the short run-in say, a decade or two. In the long run, population growth itself might create greater incentives to develop the social and political institutions necessary for conservation. Such incentives are irrelevant, of course, if the resource has become depleted beyond the point of restoration. Moreover, changes are costly and the need to bear such costs is itself a consequence of population growth.
Slower Population Growth, Health, and Education Lower fertility is likely to raise average per child levels of household expenditure on health and education and thereby improve levels of child health and education. By themselves, such changes should result in a more productive labor force. Superimposed on these within-family effects is the possibility that lower fertility will alter the distribution of children among families by income class.
If fertility declines are largest among high- income families, average levels of schooling and health among children could actually decrease despite an absolute improvement in measures of well-being among poor families. But if family planning programs result in larger fertilibr reductions among poorer families, the within-family gains will be accentuated at the societal level.
Slower population growth is likely to raise public expenditures on schooling per school-aged child. Evidence from the educational literature suggests that. We do not find convincing evidence that lower fertility will result in faster growth in enrollment ratios apart from within-family effects. Slower Population Growth and Income Unless a fertility decline is concentrated among high-income families, it is likely to lead to a reduction in income disparities among social classes. This is primarily a long-term effect although a variety of short-tenn effects are also possible and wows primarily by raising payments to labor relative to payments to capital and raising payments to unskilled labor relative to skilled labor.
We have found little evidence that the aggregate savings rate depends on growth rates or the age structure of a population. Assuming that the savings rate remains unchanged, a fertility decline will lead to an increase in the ratio of capital to labor and, along with it, labor productivity, wages, and per capita income. The increase in the capitalllabor ratio will reduce rates of ran to capital and reduce payments to owners of capital.
In the short run, more land per agricultural worker is likely to raise labor productivity in agriculture.
Long-term effects may differ because of changes in the organization and techniques of production that are induced by the relative change in factor availability. These effects may reduce the short- term gains of slower growth.
Slower Population Growth and Cities Win slower population growth, cities grow more slowly, both in the short and long run. A reduced rate of urban labor force grown in developing countries most of which is a product of natural increase among the urban population is not likely to be systematically accompanied by corresponding reductions in joblessness.
However, it may increase He proportion of He urban labor force working in high-wage jobs in the modern sector of the economy and reduce He proportion working in the low-wage, infonnal sector. Environmental and climatic conditions clearly shape the local impact of population growth. In countries such as Bangladesh, where ratios of agricultural labor to arable land are already very high, there is a presumptive case that labor productivity in agriculture will decline more rapidly with added labor than if ratios were low.
Nonagricultural production possibilities, and the opportunities for trade, also affect the importance of these natural features. Important as these natural features may be in conditioning the economic response to population growth, Hey appear to be far less important than conditions created by people. Many of the initial effects of population growth are negative, but they can be ameliorated or even reversed in the long run if institutional adjustment mechanisms are in place.
Among the most important of such mechanisms are property rights in land and properly functioning markets for labor, capital, and goods. Such markets permit the initial effects of population growth to be registered in the fonn of price changes, which can trigger a variety of adjustments, including the introduction of other factors of production that have become more valuable as a result of the increase in population; a search for substitutes for increasingly scarce factors of production; intensified research to find production processes better suited to the new conditions; reallocation of resources toward sectors e.
Of course, these adjustments may entail real costs, even when these are minimized by efficient institutions. When markets function very poorly, or do not exist, adjustments to population change are likely to be slower or to not occur at all. These are not merely theoretical notions. Even efficient markets do not guarantee desirable outcomes.
This kind of outcome underscores the role of the distribution of wealth and of human capital as a fundamental determinant of poverty. The potential value of government intervention for market regulation and for purposes of income distribution is widely acknowledged. Govemment policies in a variety of arenas clearly play important roles in mediating Me.
Effects of population growth on educational enrollment and quality, on rates of exploitation of common property resources, on the development of social and economic infrastructure, on urbanization, and on research activities are all heavily dependent on existing government policies and their adaptiveness to changed conditions. In short, the effects of rapid population growth are likely to be conditioned by the quality of markets, the nature of government policies, and features of the natural environment.
Since the effects are so dependent on these conditions, a reliable assessment of many of the net effects of population growth can best be carried out at the national level, although some issues concerning the environment and resources can only be analyzed globally. It is of interest to briefly examine and contrast Me interplay between population grown and institutions in two important areas, China and tropical Africa. China, with its extremely low arable landlpopulation ratio, is often seen as greatly in need of population control policies in order to boost per capita agricultural income; this view is reflected in the government's severe disincentives for large families.
Although it is possible Mat the resultant decline in the population growth rate has somewhat increased per capita agricultural income, these gains are probably small compared with those from agricultural reforms instituted in Over the period , the real per capita income of Me rural population increased 15 percent annually, and total agricultural output increased 51 percent U. Political independence and He forces of modernization came to tropical Africa later than to other areas.
Although some countries in other regions also share these traits, markets are generally least well developed in tropical Africa, political factionalism is greatest, and human resource potential is least developed. In parts of Africa, sparseness of population itself may be responsible for some of these difficulties, but this explanation is implausible for such countries as Ethiopia or Kenya Obviously, slowing population growth is not a substitute for solving other problems, but it can reduce some of the more extreme manifestations of these problems while they are being solved.
However, He market-induced adjustments to higher. That these over devices exist does not imply a minimal role for population grown, but it does caution against advocacy of growth as the only way to achieve them. On balance, we reach the qualitative conclusion Cat slower population growth would be beneficial to economic development for most developing counties. A rigorous quantitative assessment of these benefits is difficult and context dependent.
The Myth That Our Planet Faces an Overpopulation Crisis
Since we have stressed the role of slower population growth in raising per capita human and physical capital, it is instructive to use as a benchmark the effects of changes in the ratio of physical capital per person. Using a typical labor coefficient of 0.
This would be a substantial gain, but by no means enough to vault a typical developing country into Be ranks of the developed. This simple calculation, however, does not fully reflect the complexity of Be linkages between population growth and economic development.
Human overpopulation - Wikipedia
For instance, the production function would be expected to change in ways that reduce the advantages of slower population grown. We have reviewed considerable evidence, particularly in the agricultural sector, of how technology adapts to changes in factor proportions. In most places it is reasonable to expect slower growth in the labor force to reduce the intensity of adaptive response in the form of land improvement, instigation, and agricultural research.
On the other hand, the calculation does not reflect increases in production due to the healthier and better educated work force Mat would result from lower fertility. None of these models embodies the more. The assumption that the demographic transition from high to low birth rates occurs as a result of exogenous social and economic forces is being replaced by a clearer understanding of the many barriers that separate women from the knowledge and technologies they need to manage their childbearing within a human rights framework.
The forum ended with a clear consensus that much more emphasis needs to be given to meeting the need for family planning and to investing in education. Our two main programs are Optio , which works globally to expand access to voluntary family planning, and the OASIS Initiative Organizing to Advance Solutions in the Sahel , which is helping to accelerate a demographic transition in the Sahel.
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