THE MALTHUSIAN THEORY OF POPULATION
The Malthusian theory of population is the outcome of an essay title ‘An essay on population written in 1798 by Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus, an Anglican clergyman and a well-known political economist. The essay he wrote was influenced greatly by the rate at which the population in Europe at that time was growing at a very fast rate. In his essay, he highlighted the relationship between population and means of subsistence.
Table of Contents
THE MAIN FEATURES OF MALTHUSIAN THEORY
The main views or features of the Malthusian theory about population are;
- That population was growing at a geometric progression such as 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 etc. while food production or supply was growing at an arithmetic progression such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.
- That there is a tendency for all living things to grow beyond the food available to them
- That unless population increase is matched with means of subsistence, negative and positive checks will come in to force.
- That the checks can be war, diseases, epidemics and famine.
- That population is essentially limited by the means of subsistence
DEMOGRAPHIC TRANSITION THEORY
Demographic transition theory is concerned with the historical population growth of a society. It attempts to explain the relationship between fertility and mortality on population grow. The theory explains how all developed countries in contemporary times have passed through three identical stages of population history.
STAGE OF THE THEORY
STAGE 1 (PRE-TRANSITION PHASE OR STAGE)
This stage is characterized by high fertility (birth) rate and high mortality (death) rate. In this stage the population is fairly stable, static or decreasing or increasing at a low rate. It is a feature of the pre-industrial society.
STAGE II (TRANSITIONAL STAGE OR PHASE)
In this stage both fertility and mortality are declining. Fertility declines less rapidly at first and then grows more rapidly than mortality leading to an increase in population. It is a period of population explosion as a result of high birth rates and low death rate. This is a feature of an economy at the industrial take-off. It is a feature of developing economy
STAGE III (POST-TRANSITION PHASE OR STAGE)
Both fertility and mortality are low and under control at this stage. The growth rate is controlled as population remains, more or less stable i.e. it is a period of low birth rate, and low death rates which leads to little or no population growth. It is a feature of advance economy.
Under population may be defined as the type of population that is less than the available resources of a country. Under population exists if the people within the country are too few in number to supply enough labour to tap the available resources fully given the existing level of technical knowledge.
In such a situation where the resources of the country will not efficiently utilized as a result of the small size of the population. The standard of living will fall.
CONSEQUENCES OF UNDER POPULAITON
- The supply of labour will be relatively low
- The size of the market will be relatively small
- The level of production will be low
- The level of income per capital and the standard of living will be low
- The low productive capacity will mean that the size of export will decreases
- Savings and investments will be low.
CAUSES OF UNDER POPULATION
- A decrease in birth rate
- An increase in death rate
- High level of emigration
The word optimum means best. Optimum population refers to the best size of the population. It is that size of the population which is given the available natural resources, technical knowledge, capital and organization, will yield the highest output per head. There will be a high standard of living since the size of the population is adequate to tap the available resources fully.
WHY OPTIMUM POPULATION IS THE BEST POPULATION
- Optimum population is neither to a large nor too small but equal to the available resources in the country.
- It yields as maximum returns per head
- Optimum population is the type of population that is not difficult to control or manage
- Highest standard of living is attained in a country that has optimum population
- Optimum population does not pose a problem to a country’s economy.
Over population is defined as a situation where a country has more people than this physical and human resources can support with adequate living standards. In other words, over population refers to a situation where there population exceeds the available resources of the country. As a result of over population will compete for the available resources and due to the relative shortage of resources, there will be a general fall in standard of living of the people.
CONSEQUENCES OF OVER POPULATION
- There will be congestion on land and pressure on other resources, including social services.
- There will be a fall in per capita income
- The demand for goods and service will be relatively high than what is available
- There will be increased imports and greater balance of payment problems
- There will be high level of unemployment and under employment
- They will be a high level of government spending
- There may be a high dependency ratio
CONTROL OF OVER POPULATION
- Family planning
- Discouragement of early marriage
- Encouragement of monogamy
- Provision of gain full employment for women
- Encouragement of emigration
POPULATION DISTRIBUTION OR STURCTURE
Population distribution refers to the ways in which the population of a given country is distributed into certain categories such as age, sex, occupation and geographical distribution.
This refers to the breakdown of the population of a particular country into age groups. This age distribution which varies from country to country is derived from population census figures. However, the population of a country can be divided into the following age groups. These are:
- 0-17 years include the infants, children, pupils in nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary institution. This age group is called dependent population
- 18-60 years is popularly referred to as the active population or working population or labor force. (Independent population).
- 60 years and above is the old age (dependent population).
The summary, the age distribution of any given population can be grouped as follows;
- 0-17 years is children (dependent population)
- 18-60 years is adult (working population or labour force)
- 60 years and above: old age (dependent population)
ECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS OR EFFECTS OF INCREASE IN THE POPULATION OF DEPENDANTS
- There will be high demand for goods and service required by the dependent population
- Imports will increase
- Increase in government expenditure
- There will be full in standard of living
- There will be low savings and low investments
Occupational distribution of a population refers to the classification of the working population into different types of work they engage in. The occupation distribution in any population is influence by a number of facts. These include
- The level of education
- Availability of natural resources
- The level of technology
- They types of productive activities
However, occupational as a whole can be classified into four major principal divisions namely; extractive, manufacturing and constructive, commercial, direct and indirect services.
SEX DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION
Sex distribution of population refers to the classification of the population according to sex or gender (i.e. male and female).
Sex distribution can easily be obtained from a population census of a given country which shows the total number of males and the total number of females.
Knowledge of the total number of males and females in a country will assist the government to make the necessary plans to cater for the population.
GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION OF POPULATION
Geographical distribution of a given population refers to how people are spread over a given geographical area in term of where they live. In Nigeria for examples, the population is not equally spread or distributed. Some areas are high populated while others are poorly populated.
- Critically examine the economic consequences of a rapid growth in the population of your country.
- Briefly outline the views of Thomas Malthus about population.
- Give two major views of Rev.Thomas Malthus in population theory.