Population related problems - Over population and Under population

Unequal distribution of global population combined with unequal distribution of resource and resource mobilization techniques forms the basis of demarcated demographic challenges.

The nature of demographic challenges are distinguished as:

  • Over population, and
  • Under population

Let’s understand the concepts of Optimum Population, Over Population, and Under Population in more detail, and have a look at the probable solutions.

Table of Contents
  • Optimum population
  • Over population
  • Under population

Optimum population

It refers to the condition wherein there is a perfect prevailing balance between the resource base and population. It showcases the optimum levels of man-resource relation that can be achieved in any given condition or location.

As a theoretical concept it was developed by Ackerman to identify the two extremes of the population problems experienced in the global profile.

The term optimum population is applied in context of quality and quantity of human population with quality and quantity of resource base, along with the recognition of desired level of living. It is these variable constituents that makes optimum population most dynamic concept in the demographic study.

Highlighting the variable cases, Ackerman attempted to outline the range of the subtypes of optimum population. Here are some of the prominent examples:

  • European Type: European Type of optimum population is co-related to high magnitude of technological implementation, higher magnitude of diversified needs, in combination of lesser population and less resource base. In accordance, its optimum profile co-relates to less self-sufficiency and more inter-dependence.
  • American Type: American type of optimum population is co-related with high magnitude of technological implementation, higher magnitude of diversified needs, in combination of larger population and elaborate resource base. In accordance, its optimum profile co-relates to near total self-sufficiency, justifying to be better profile than the other developed counterpart, i.e. the European type.
  • Brazilian Type: Brazilian type of optimum population co-relates to moderate magnitude of technological implementation, moderate magnitude of basic and cultural needs in combination with lesser population and moderate resource base. In accordance, its optimum profile co-relates to moderate self-sufficiency and global inter-dependence.
  • Indian Type: Indian type of optimum population co-relates to moderate to high technological implementation, with lack of fulfillment of the cultural needs. This stands in combination with exponential population and moderate resource base. In accordance, its optimum profile though co-relates to moderate self-sufficiency and global inter dependence, it reveals the distinguishing element of optimum distribution parameter from its developing counterpart, i.e. the Brazilian type.

Over population

It is the imbalanced inter-relation between population and resource base, representing larger population size and persisting demand with comparative lesser resource base (i.e. supply segment).

It is recognized as demand-supply mismatch, resulting in not just higher magnitude of deprivation (poverty, unhealthy living conditions, wide range in income level both between the individuals and between the regions), but also lack of opportunities for individualistic growth (unemployment, limited opportunities of working environment).

This heavy geo-demographic load also leads to unplanned land utilization, which in turn depletes the availability of potential resource base, and thus multiplying the deprivation.

The demographic challenge or population problem of over population has a global dimension, and co-relates to globally applicable population policy called Anti-natalism.

The administrative attempt to tame and correct the demographic challenge of over-population is called Anti-natalism.

This population policy is oriented towards inducing the change required to reduce the birth rate. Characteristics of anti-natalism are traced in reference to two chronological categories:

  • International Initiation
  • Intranational Initiation

International Initiation

Post second world war, the first ambitious anti-natalist programme called KAP – Knowledge, Application, Practice was initiated by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

This was inter-national initiation supported by developed countries, with the implementation location being the developing countries. This programme aimed at applying the knowledge of family control measures possessed by the developed countries in developing regions, so as to reduce the potentiality of booming population growth that was projected for these newly independent countries.

This initiation proved to be a complete failure because of three fold reasons:

  • Academic nature of programme
  • Absence of agreement about the objectives of programme
  • Elaborate range of doubts - thus resistance by the countries at the receiving end

Intranational Initiation

The intra-national anti-natalism as explicit national policies oriented towards controlling the birth rate was initiated in India way back in 1952, making India the first formal anti-natalist country.

Indian anti-natalism being planned and implemented on absolute democratic lines, reveals valuable magnitude of desired results that are traced in different temporal blocks. Let’s have a look at them.

First phase of anti-natalism

It was extensive between 1952-75 and was a voluntary phase of anti-natalism, keeping in tradition with the democratic setup. Small family norms were highlighted in this phase.

But with the general absence of required infrastructure this phase was practically an Informative Phase, which is justified with the fact that in spite of near 20 years of being an anti-natalist country, India experienced a population explosion in 1970s.

It is this explosion of population growth that formed the basis of the second phase of anti-natalism.

Second phase of anti-natalism

This phase continued with voluntary family planning, however with required infrastructure more favorably developed in terms of providing requested assistance for family planning, healthcare facility for mother and child, along with the beginning of immunization programmes that started yielding desired result.

It is the positive response of this phase of anti-natalism that made India register a decline in the fertility levels. This positive response however evolved with a clear regional divide – with peninsular states responding favorably to anti-natalism, whereas the Hindi heartland sustaining the explosive growth profile.

Analysis of the regional disparity highlighted the issues that restricted the required response from the Hindi heartland. These are:

  • Mass illiteracy and thereby a lot of misconception regarding family planning.
  • Strong desire for male child, and poor societal status of female.
  • Widespread poverty

Identification of these issues helped policy makers carve out a more effective policy thereafter.

Third phase of anti-natalism: Population Policy, 2000

The contemporary population policy, i.e. population policy, 2000 takes into account more diversified societal and welfare dimensions, apart from medicine support as a constituent of anti-natalism. Aspects such as elementary education, empowerment of girl child and women, range of economic incentives for enhancing economic independence of female population were added as formal clauses of population policy.

The 2011 census report showcased the positive response as a result of this changed anti-natalism, with all the EAG (Empowered Action Group) states registering decline in the fertility rate for the first time. It highlights the universal success of Indian anti- natalism.

Chinese Anti-natalist policy

A distinction category of anti-natalist policy relates to the most populous country of the world – China.

Since independence China followed a pronatalist population policy, i.e. Maoist population policy.

It was in 1981 that China implemented strict One Child Norm with elaborate range of economic sanctions and penalties, along with well-developed implementation infrastructure and monitoring infrastructure. Rigid anti-natalism of China attained desired success in just 20 years of implementation, as the country attained Zero population growth in 2000.

Responding to strong political pressure from minorities, specifically from autonomous territories, Chinese anti-natalism registered minor magnitude of flexibility in the year 2000, when some of the politically recognized minority communities such as Tibetans were provided with flexibility of 2 children per family.

As per 2010-11 U.N. population table, China has registered approximately 5% decadal population growth rate.

Under population

We know that, population challenge is identified with imbalanced man-resource ratio. In case of under population, there’s a lack of availability of human resource to sustain the pace of economic development or to induce the required economic development.

Under population as formally recognized population problem relates to the European countries, where there is consistent growing threat of depopulation.

In the reference of UN population tables, most of the European countries being at the verge of completing their demographic cycle, relates to maximum concentration of population in old age cohort. Around 9 out of 10 individuals in European countries were pensioners in 2013-14. Fertility levels are below replacement levels, and there is elaborate depletion in the availability in work force.

So, apart from the threat of getting depopulated, these countries are facing the challenge of human resource scarcity. Human resource is essential to sustain the developed scale of economy.

Pronatalism as population policy relates to these regions of under population. In temporal perspective, this category of policy forms the oldest population policy that dates back to the times to Nation states. With the objective of increasing the defense capacity, all these nation states favored high birth rate, i.e. Pronatalism.

Chinese Pronatalism: In contemporary terms, Maoist population policy of China also represent an example of pronatalism. It remained valid only till 1980-81. However, this Chinese pronatalism is recognized to be most successful, even when compared to the former pronatalist countries.

European Pronatalism: The pronatalism of most of the European countries marked its beginning from late 1960s, when the population projection strongly highlighted the likely threat of depopulation in near future.

In the first phase of pronatalism, individual freedom was restricted, with most of European countries (including religious fundamentalists) making abortion ill-legal. This desperate move by the European nations to enhance the fertility level completely failed to attain the desired results. Moreover, this approach was strongly criticized.

All this resulted into the genesis of the present nature of European pronatalism that avails complete freedom to the choice of the individuals, and includes wide range of clauses of appeasement to convince the couples to have young and large families.

The most highlighted example of appeasing pronatalism can be seen in French population policy, which attempts to support working parents in terms of development of neighborhood amenities required for toddles and young children. The objective is to make family life and professional commitments co-exist simultaneously. Elaborate range of maternity benefits, multiplying with birth of subsequent children, denote the highest magnitude of appeasement.

Even then, the pronatalism policy in its present form is an absolute failure. It is in accordance therefore that easing out of visa-norms to attract work force is done by most of the European states.

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