Controlling Population

Controlling Population




  • Recently, two Indian state governments – Uttar Pradesh and Assam – have championed aggressive population control measures.
  • This proposal obtains a two-child policy for entitlement to state government benefits.
  • With ongoing style, India will overtake China as the most populous country by 2025 or perhaps sooner.
  • The overwhelming population burden is a cause of resource crunch on deep pockets like hospitals, food grains, houses, or employment.
  • However, population control, grounded in classic economic theories, has been a double-edged sword. It has both benefits and costs.

Status of Population Growth in the India & World-

  • In over half of the world’s nations, the rate of population growth is rapidly falling behind replacement rates, and, probably for the first time, the growth rate in the world’s population is expected to be zero by the end of this century, according to the data of United Nations (UN).
  • Further, the Covid-19 pandemic may have enhanced the oncoming peak of a global population fall by at least a decade, according to a recent Bloomberg report.
  • The pandemic has slowed down the already slowing global birth rates, from the United States (US) to China.
  • According to the United Nations population projections, India’s population will grow by a multiple of 1.09 between 2021 and 2031.
  • From 2060 onwards, India’s population will start falling, which occurs when the fertility rate falls below replacement levels.

Population Control Theories-

Malthusian Theory:

  • Malthus in his work, Principle of Population (1798) had forecasted that the world’s population would grow at an increasing rate than the rate of food production.
  • According to the theory the population tends to grow exponentially (geometric growth), he stated, but food supply grows in a slower arithmetic ratio.
  • However, Malthus was ultimately proved wrong as development in agricultural technology made countries, such as India, net food surplus.

Big-Push Theory:

  • Harvard economist Harvey Leibenstein has exhibited how population growth tends to crumble incomes.
  • The main economic brawl behind this theory was that if per capita income is low, then people are too poor to save.
  • Since investment is taken to be uniform to savings, low savings would mean the economy doesn’t grow.

Associated Issues With Population Control In India-

While these theories’ understanding can be made of population economics, many of these theories were later found to have many disruptions. This can be reflected in the following prospects-

  • High Population is Not Always Bad Economics: A high population is not importantly a bad thing for the economy. Population controlling measures will result in:

    • There would simply not be enough people to work for our economy,
    • A large non-productive aging population is supporting and the government may not have proper resources to support pensions
    • This would head to de-industrialization.
  • Distributional Aspects of Population: In 1937, John Maynard Keynes gave a lecture on the topic “Some Economic Consequences of a Declining Population”. His key concern was poor demand for investment in places where companies encounter a declining population of consumers.
  • China’s Model: China enacted a one-child norm in the 1980s, but with a growing share of older people in its population (due to the one-child policy), China dissipated the old policy and encouraged couples to have more children.
  • Religious Factor in India: What makes population control an even more complex issue in India is the religious centralization around it. The wagon of population explosion is often used (directly or indirectly) to target a particular minority in India. The population controlling measure is impacting social harmony.
  • Impacting the Poor: Total fertility rates (TFR) are higher among the poor and they will come down as incomes increase. Thus, entitlement-based population control policy and setup will end up hurting the poor, who need such help the most.
  • Patriarchy: Patriarchy-driven predilection for a male child is an important driver of higher fertility rates. Restricting to the two-child policy is known to have had a severe effect on the sex ratio of the population through practices such as female foeticide etc.

Way Forward-

Focus on Demographic Dividend: 

  • India needs to put focus on exploiting its demographic dividend rather than apprehension about it.
  • India is cool-headed at a unique moment in history, where it can exploit its demographic advantage to ascertain its economic goals.
  • According to the government’s population goals, 53.6% of India’s population in 2021 is under the age of 29. More than a quarter of India’s population is 14 years or younger.
  • Our policymakers will do good to focus on exploiting India’s demographic dividend rather than panic about it

Upgrading the Skill Set:

  • Presently, India is nowhere close to bond the best possible opportunities to young Indians.
  • For example, according to All India Survey on Higher Education data revealed that India’s higher education sector is mired in deep structural inequalities.
  • This young population can become very productive or unproductive turning on the skill sets it acquires.

Focusing on Women:

  • The education of women can play a role, both in the case of fertility rates as well as the age of the mother at the time of birth of her first child.
  • Education helps in reducing fertility and early birth among women


  • India is at a stage of demographic transition where mortality rates are downfalling and fertility rates would decline in the next two to three decades or so.
  • This leads to an angle to cut population growth because India still has an assertive growth rate, but our population policy should keep in mind the larger outcomes of zero population growth.

-Khyati Khare

Download Plutus IAS Daily Current Affairs of 30th June 2021

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