Population and Poverty
- October 25, 2020
- Posted by: admin1
- Category: MMN
POVERTY AND POPULATION
Population trends and dynamics can have an enormous effect on prospects for poverty reduction and sustainable development. Poverty is influenced by – and influences – population dynamics, including population growth, age structure, and rural-urban distribution.
All of this has a critical impact on a country’s development prospects and prospects for raising living standards for the poor.
Investments in better health, including reproductive health, are essential for individual security and for reducing mortality and morbidity, which in turn improve a country’s productivity and development prospects.
THEORIES ON POPULATION AND ITS EFFECTS :
THE MALTHUSIAN THEORY OF POPULATION GROWTH:
- Malthus’s theory of population growth – outlined in his Essay on Population (1798) – was a rather pessimistic one.
- He argued that human populations tend to grow at a much faster rate than the rate at which the means of human subsistence (specially food, but also clothing and other agriculture-based products) can grow.
- Therefore humanity is condemned to live in poverty forever because the growth of agricultural production will always be overtaken by population growth.
- While population rises in geometric progression (i.e., like 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc.), agricultural production can only grow in arithmetic progression (i.e., like 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 etc.).
- Because population growth always outstrips growth in production of subsistence resources, the only way to increase prosperity is by controlling the growth of population. Unfortunately, humanity has only a limited ability to voluntarily reduce the growth of its population (through ‘preventive checks’ such as postponing marriage or practicing sexual abstinence or celibacy). Malthus believed therefore that ‘positive checks’ to population growth – in the form of famines and diseases – were inevitable because they were nature’s way of dealing with the imbalance between food supply and increasing population.
THE THEORY OF DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION:
Another significant theory in demography is the theory of demographic transition. This suggests that population growth is linked to overall levels of economic development and that every society follows a typical pattern of development related population growth. There are three basic phases of population growth.
- The first stage is that of low population growth in a society that is underdeveloped and technologically backward.
- Growth rates are low because both the death rate and the birth rate are very high, so that the difference between the two (or the net growth rate) is low.
- The third (and last) stage is also one of low growth in a developed society where both death rate and birth rate have been reduced.
OPTIMUM POPULATION THEORY:
Optimum population is defined as “that population which produces maximum economic welfare”.
By optimum population we mean the ideal number of population that a country should have considering its resources.
The optimum size of population is which along with the existing natural resources and a given state of technology, yields the highest income per capita in a country. The optimum population means the best and the most desirable size of a country’s population.
The optimum theory of population is based on two important assumptions.
- First, it is assumed that the proportion of working population to total population remains constant as the population of the country increases.
- Secondly, it is assumed that as the population of a country increases, the natural resources, the capital stock and the state of technology remains unchanged.
DETERMINANTS OF POPULATION:
- Fertility, mortality and migration are principal determinants of population growth. Population change depends on the natural increase changes seen in birth rates and the change seen in migration.
- Changes in population size can be predicted based on changes in fertility (births), mortality (deaths) and migration rates.
POVERTY AND POPULATION:
Poverty and population can be described as two sides of the same coin. Although there are many other causes which shall be listed below, the challenges differ from country to country, community to community and place to place.
The United Nations has made tireless efforts in eradicating poverty, yet nearly one billion people live in extreme poverty and more than 800 million endure hunger and malnutrition. The United Nations has set 2030 as its target to eradicate poverty. The problem of poverty has engaged the attention of individual scholars, institutions, governments and, above all, state and society in tackling it in their sphere of activity.
CAUSES OF POVERTY IN INDIA:
- Heavy pressure of population:
Population has been rising in India at a rapid speed. This rise is mainly due to fall in death rate and more birth rate.
India’s population was 84.63 crores in 1991 and became 102.87 crores in 2001. This pressure of population proves hindrance in the way of economic development
- Unemployment and under employment:
Due to continuous rise in population, there is chronic unemployment and under employment in India. There is educated unemployment and disguised unemployment. Poverty is just the reflection of unemployment.
- Capital Deficiency:
Capital is needed for setting up industry, transport and other projects. Shortage of capital creates hurdles in development.
- Under-developed economy:
The Indian economy is under developed due to low rate of growth. It is the main cause of poverty.
- Increase in Price:
The steep rise in prices has affected the poor badly. They have become more poor.
- Net National Income:
The net national income is quite low as compared to size of population. Low per capita income proves its poverty. The per capita income in 2003-04 was Rs. 20989 which proves India is one of the poorest nations.
- Rural Economy:
Indian economy is rural economy. Indian agriculture is backward. It has great pressure of population. Income in agriculture is low and disguised unemployment is more in agriculture.
- Lack of Skilled Labour:
In India, unskilled labour is in abundant supply but skilled labour is less due to insufficient industrial education and training.
- Deficiency of efficient Entrepreneurs:
For industrial development, able and efficient entrepreneurs are needed. In India, there is shortage of efficient entrepreneurs. Less industrial development is a major cause of poverty.
- Lack of proper Industrialisation:
Industrially, India is a backward state. 3% of total working population is engaged in industry. So industrial backwardness is major cause of poverty.
- Low rate of growth:
The growth rate of the economy has been 3.7% and growth rate of population has been 1.8%. So compared to population, per capita growth rate of economy has been very low. It is the main cause of poverty.
- Outdated Social institutions:
The social structure of our country is full of outdated traditions and customs like caste system, laws of inheritance and succession. These hamper the growth of economy.
- Improper use of Natural Resources:
India has large natural resources like iron, coal, manganese, mica etc. It has perennial flowing rivers that can generate hydro electricity. Man power is abundant. But these sources are not put in proper use.
- Lack of Infrastructure:
The means of transport and communication have not been properly developed. The road transport is inadequate and railway is quite less. Due to lack of proper development of road and rail transport, agricultural marketing is defective. Industries do not get power supply and raw materials in time and finished goods are not properly marketed.
SOCIAL DIMENSIONS OF POVERTY:
- The poor suffer worse health and die younger. They have higher than average child and maternal mortality, higher levels of disease, more limited access to health care and social protection, and gender inequality disadvantages further the health of poor women and girls.
- For poor people especially, health is also a crucially important economic asset. Their livelihoods depend on it.
- When a poor or socially vulnerable person becomes ill or injured, the entire household can become trapped in a downward spiral of lost income and high health care costs.
- The cascading effects may include diverting time from generating an income or from schooling to care for the sick; they may also force the sale of assets required for livelihoods.
- Poor people are more vulnerable to this downward spiral as they are more prone to disease and have more limited access to health care and social insurance.
Education and Children:
- It is a fact that statistics show that for children who live below the poverty line, the chances of having school success is much lower than their other peers .
- Coming on poverty, Children living in poverty often get exposed to more stress, more intense & longer lasting stress that negatively impact attention, lowers fitness and focus, cognition, intelligence quotient (IQ) and social skills.
- Children living in poverty also tend to hear less reciprocal conversations, are engaged in conversation with less complex vocabulary and less sentence structure, and are read to less frequently than their peers not living in poverty.
- This can lead to severe mental conditions that impact a student’s motivation and desire to do well in school.
- The low-income children are many a times more likely to drop out when they reach high school.
- In fact all possible consequences of poverty have an impact on children. Poor infrastructures, unemployment, lack of basic services and income reflect on their lack of education, malnutrition, violence at home and outside, child labour, diseases of all kinds, transmitted by the family or through the environment. Indeed, poverty had long lasting and much regressive impacts on education.
- Feminization of poverty is a trend of increasing inequality in living standards between men and women widening gap in poverty between women and men as noticed towards the end of the twentieth century.
- This phenomenon is not only a consequence of lack of income, but is also the result of the deprivation of capabilities and gender biases present in both societies and governments.
- It covers the poverty of choices and opportunities such as the ability to lead a long, healthy, and creative life, and enjoying basic rights like freedom, respect, and dignity.
- The term “feminization of poverty” has been defined in many different ways focusing on income, assets, time, health deprivations, and social and cultural exclusions.
- Poverty often causes people to put relatively more pressure on the environment which results in larger families (due to high death rates and insecurity), improper human waste disposal leading to unhealthy living conditions, more pressure on fragile land to meet their needs, overexploitation of natural resources and more deforestation.
- Insufficient knowledge about agricultural practices can also lead to a decline in crop yield and productivity etc.
Social exclusion causes the poverty of particular people, leading to higher rates of poverty among affected groups. It hurts them materially – making them poor in terms of income, health or education by causing them to be denied access to resources, markets and public services.
- Studies show that an estimated 18 million elderly in India are living below the poverty
- On adjusting the consumption expenditure to household size and composition, there are no significant differences in the incidence of poverty among elderly and non-elderly households in India.
Differently abled people:
- Disability is both a cause and consequence of poverty.
- It is a cause because it can lead to job loss and reduced earnings, barriers to education and skills development, significant additional expenses, and many other challenges that can lead to economic hardship.
- Poverty and disability go hand in hand.
GLOBAL INDICATORS ON POVERTY:
Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI):
The Global Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) was developed in 2010 by the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) and the United Nations Development Programme and uses health, education and standard of living indicators to determine the incidence and intensity of poverty experienced by a population.
India is 62nd among 107 countries with an MPI score of 0.123 and 27.91% headcount ratio, based on the NFHS 4.
GLOBAL HUNGER INDEX:
To comprehensively measure and track hunger at the global, regional, and country levels.
The GHI scores are calculated each year to assess progress and setbacks in combating hunger. It is calculated on the basis of four indicators:
- Undernourishment: Share of the population with insufficient caloric intake.
- Child Wasting: Share of children under age five who have low weight for their height, reflecting acute undernutrition.
- Child Stunting: Share of children under age five who have low height for their age, reflecting chronic undernutrition.
- Child Mortality: The mortality rate of children under the age of five.
India has been ranked at 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2020.
MEASURES TO REDUCE POVERTY:
The nine important measures which should be taken to reduce poverty are as follows:
- Accelerating Economic Growth
- Agricultural Growth and Poverty Alleviation
- Speedy Development of Infrastructure
- Accelerating Human Resource Development
- Growth of Non-Farm Employment
- Access to Assets
- Access to Credit
- Public Distribution System (PDS)
- Direct Attack on Poverty: Special Employment Schemes for the Poor.
MEASURES TO CONTROL POPULATION:
- Minimum age of marriage: The problem of child marriage is highly prominent .
- A marriage at a tender age leads to a long span for giving birth. Also young age marriage devoid people of the education and awareness required to be sensitive towards and understand the consequences of raising too many children.
- Raising the status of women: There is still discrimination to the women. They are confined to four walls of the house.
- They are still confined to rearing and bearing children. So women should be given opportunities to develop socially and economically.
- Free education should be given to them.
- Spread of Education: The spread of education changes the outlook of people. The educated men prefer to delay marriage and adopt small family norms. Educated women are health conscious and avoid frequent pregnancies and thus help in lowering birth rate.
- Adoption: Some parents do not have any child, despite costly medical treatment. It is advisable that they should adopt orphan children. It will be beneficial to orphan children and children couples. Government should also provide incentives for adopting.
- Social Security: More and more people should be covered under-social security schemes. So that they do not depend upon others in the event of old age, sickness, unemployment etc. with these facilities they will have no desire for more children.
Economic Measures :
- More employment opportunities: The first and foremost measure is to raise employment avenues in rural as well as urban areas.
- Generally in rural areas there is disguised unemployment. So efforts should be made to migrate unemployed persons from the rural side to the urban side.
- When their income is increased they would improve their standard of living and adopt small family norms.
- Another method to check the population is to provide employment to women.
- Women should be given incentive to give services in different fields. Women are taking an active part in competitive examinations. As a result their number in teaching, medical and banking etc. is increasing rapidly.
- Providing incentives: Incentives have proved to be an efficient policy measure in combating most development issues including population.
- Providing a health, educational or even financial incentive can be a highly effective population measure.
- There are certain incentive policies like paying certain money to people with not more than two kids or free or discounted education for single children etc. which are in place in most developing countries facing population related challenges and has also proved to be a useful measure.
- Medical Facilities: One big drawback of developing countries is that of limited and highly centric medical facilities.
- Because of the high rural-urban divide in developing countries, availability of good hospitals and doctors is limited to urban centers thus resulting in high infant mortality rate in rural areas.
- Rural people, in order to ensure that at least some of their kids survive, give birth to more and more kids thus contributing to the population growth.
- If provided with optimum medical facilities population rate will almost certainly decline.
- Legislative Actions: Not much result can be achieved from these if family planning and use of contraception remains optional instead of mandatory.
- Strict legal steps are required for child marriage, education, abolition of child labor and beggary and family planning to reap significant benefits from it.
- Proper enforcement of laws related to child labour, slavery and beggary will ensure that parents don’t sell their children or send them out to work thus forcing them to raise lesser number of kids.
- Recreational Facilities: Birth rate will likely to fall if there are different recreational facilities like cinema; theatre, sports and dance etc. are available to the people.
- Spreading awareness: People need to be told and made to understand the consequences of having too many children.
- Government and non-government institutions can carry awareness campaigns informing people how they will be unable to provide good nutrition, education or medical facilities to their children if they have too many.
- Population is also a reason for illiteracy and diseases and malnutrition and the negative effects of it are required to be communicated to the general public to expand their reasoning and understanding.
- The existence of poverty and rapid population growth has been seen in many LDC’s. These concepts have largely been accepted as being interrelated however these relationships have proved to be highly complex therefore addressing these problems have been difficult globally.
- Sustainable development practices within areas of poverty and levels of high population growth have historically been poor. Poor rural areas often engage in overgrazing, water pollution and soil erosion.
- An increase in population levels are expected to exacerbate these areas forcing the movement into less productive, lesser quality marginal lands. Urban areas, although said to not have an immediate dependence on resources to suffer from practices which do not encourage sustainable development especially with respect to overpopulation.
- Efforts to combat the ‘vicious circle’ of poverty, rising population growth and environmental degradation are said to require multidisciplinary policies in all sectors.
- These policies need to be carefully established taking account of the need to achieving sustainable development if the resourced that are available for future generations are to be preserve.
Questions for practice:
- Critically examine whether growing population is the cause of poverty OR poverty is the main cause of population increase in India.( CSE 2015)