World Population day is celebrated every year today to create awareness about various issues like family planning, gender equality, human rights, and child marriage. The reality, though, is quite contradictory. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it took us a pandemic to realize the innumerable threats that the population explosion poses to mankind.
It is evident that the lack of education and awareness, weak family planning, and poverty are some reasons behind the rapidly increasing population. However,ageing population is yet another significant contributing factor towards the same and unfortunately, the major toll of this is borne by developing countries.
The population of the developing countries has increased at a rapid pace due to sharply declining death rates and high birth rates. The average death rate decreased from 22 in 1950 to 8 in 2000 per thousand while the birth rate fell from 42 to 26 per thousand during the same period. The main concern here is that the ageing population (people over 65) is also the dependent population. They take up equal resources by depending on the younger population while contributing minimally. The significant decline in the labour participation rate is a big blow to the economy. This means a larger investment with a reduced capacity of the people to save. According to data from World Population Prospects: the 2019 Revision, by 2050, one in six people in the world will be over age 65 (16%), up from one in 11 in 2019 (9%). By 2050, one in four persons living in Europe and Northern America could be aged 65 or over. In 2018, for the first time in history, persons aged 65 or above outnumbered children under five years of age globally. The number of persons aged 80 years or over is projected to triple, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million in 2050.
The lack of resources further degenerates opportunities for the youth leading to poverty, unemployment, starvation, and much more. With a lack of education and yearn to earn, the fertility rate increases which means more mouths to feed and more land to live on. Unable to access the resources, people remain illiterate and unaware. In developing or underdeveloped countries where most of the population is dependent on agriculture, it has further disturbed the land-man ratio. Due to the increased demand for resources, the problem of disguised unemployment has risen. The number of landless workers has largely increased followed by a low rate of their wages. Beyond the periphery of socio-economic factors, it is the environment that is affected the most. Water shortage, land shortage, and increasing pollution are evidence of the harm of population explosion. The migration of large multitudes from rural to urban spaces in search of work has further elevated environmental degradation in big cities and towns. Apart from that, a large number of people have also been observed to move to more ecological zones like hills thereby, adversely affecting the untouched spaces too.
The most eminent example of the tragedy of this rural to urban migration is the recent migrant labour crisis that India faced post lockdown. Hundreds and thousands of migrant labourers were left to rot on the roads with no shelter and food which proved that the country is yet not prepared to sustain its ever-growing population. Unfortunately, this situation portrays the ever encircling vicious circle of poverty and population in its entirety. It is when we control poverty, unemployment, and increase awareness and education, that we’ll be able to breakthrough.
Image Source – IndorTalk