A Critical Analysis of of the Impact of Population Growth on the Economy of Nigeria
The nature of the relationship between population growth and economic growth has so attracted the attention of a large number of the world’s most influential thinkers that most of them have started propounding theories to explain the relationship. Generally the various explanations of the relationship between population growth and the society have focused on the causes of population growth, the consequences of population growth, and the responses of people to population growth. Most of the early writers on population growth were very much concerned with the need to balance population with resources.
According to Okafor (2004:84), population is a critical factor in the development plans of any civilized society. For effective planning for the development of developing countries, it is necessary to have an actual count of the population i.e. in form of an accurate census. This will enable government to know how many people to whom they should distribute amenities and social services.
According to Udabah (2002:59), it is a central problem of economic development. If the population of a nation expands as fast as national income, per capita income will not increase. When population expands rapidly, a country may by great effort raise the quantity of capital only to find that a corresponding rise in population has occurred so that the net effect of its “growth policy” is that larger populations now maintained at the original low standard of living. Much of the problem of developing nations like that of Nigeria is due to population growth. Most developing nations have made appreciable gains in income, like Nigeria do in exporting crude, but most of the gains have been eaten up (literally) by the increasing population.
On the other hand, the early Roman Christians and Islamic writers were largely in favour of population growth without showing concern for the need to balance the number of people with available resources. This attitude was apparently influenced by high mortality, which characterized the period.
THEORIES 0F POPULATION GROWTH
Most world thinkers or philosophers have in recent times been attracted by the nature of the relationship between population growth and the socio economic system of a given geographical zone. This attraction gave rise to the postulation of so many theories of population. Among these theories, they can be classified into three classes or school of thoughts.
- The pessimistic theorist (The Malthusian theory).
- The optimistic theorist (Marxist theorist)
- Liberal theorist.
THE MALTHSIAN THEORY
Thomas Malthus was an English clergyman who lived from 1766-1834. He was widely known as the first professional demographer. It was during the period of the physiocrate thinking in the 18th century that he postulated his theory. He had the most influential work relating to population growth and its consequences. He was the first man to draw out in a systematic way a picture that links the consequence of growth to its causes. His theory of population growth can be broken into eight major points based on evolution.