Development is linked in various ways to population change. The transformation in demographic regimes from high to low death and birth rates; the demographic transitions can be added to the list of structural changes constituting development: indeed, in terms of its direct effect on human well being and its social and economic implications, it is arguably the most important of those changes. Population growth unleashed by mortality decline or migration is a force of its own in the development process, sometimes seeming to promote development, at other times impeding its achievements it, and always diluting its achievements. While countries are the principal level at which such relationships are identified, effects at the local level are often sharper. And population change can also have implications for broader regional development and even for the global economy, directly through migration and disease transmission or indirectly through on geopolitics and major environmental systems. Breaking down population growth by age group, source (in particular, natural increase versus migration) and other characteristics reveal future links. The subject of population and development is concerned broadly with all such interactions: with how population and economies impinge on each other and with the consequences that ensue. The Debates on the Issue
Under the Mercantalist doctrine that prevailed in early modern Europe a larger population was valued as a source of nation’s wealth. Malthusianism punctured that belief. From Malthus onward, both popular & official opinion has tended to see population growth as a threat to development. Increases in production could only too easily be dissipated through additions to population rather than invested in capital accumulation. Resource scarcities in arable land later also in other natural resources were seen as always looming on the horizon & where brought nearer by demographic expansion. Malthusian views lay behind India’s concerns about its population growth both prior to& after independence. They were the basis of China’s sudden conversion in the 1970s to a policy of hardnosed birth control. They attend wide prominence in the West in the same decade through the Limits to growth Thesis propounded by environmentalists. Malthusian thinking has a more chequered history in economics. Resource dependence has been steadily reduced as technology has advanced & human capital has grown. Non renewable resources have found vastly expanded supplies in some cases & ready substitutes in others, banishing fears of an era of diminishing returns & rendering earlier worries about the imminent exhaustion of particular resources( coal, for instance) almost quaint. As Barnett &Morse (1963) wrote: “the social heritage consists far more of knowledge, equipment, and institutions and far less of natural resources, than it once did”. Resource constraints cannot be wholly assumed away, especially if development is equated with human wellbeing. Fresh water is often mentioned as a potentially limiting factor; so called positional goods, such as unique environments, are by definition scarce (Hirsch 1976). Standard measures of economic performance mask the effects of changes in the natural environment or in the environmental services it provides: these may be a significant ingredient of human welfare, but yet remain statistically invisible aesthetic criteria generally and hence a whole range of quality distinctions in production & consumption as well as in environmental conditions tend to be neglected when it comes to measurement. Population resource interactions are mediated by human institutions, markets or management regimes that serve to ration access to the resource by potential users. In some circumstances, these procedures breakdown, or possibly they never emerged in the first place, leading to depletion or degradation as the demands on the resource increase. A classic stylized account of this, intended to model...
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