Most LDCs’ birth rates are significantly higher than their death rates, so their population growth is rapid. A high population growth has many negative impacts on economic development:
1) Food Shortages.
Malthus posits that food supply only increases arithmetically (2, 4, 6, 8 … ) but population increases geometrically (2, 4, 16, 256 … ). Eventually population growth overtakes the growth in food supply. Also, maybe farmers cannot keep using new technology to increase crop yields because there is a limit to how much they can fertilize and develop new strains. Additionally there may be a limit on how much food the planet can provide. Resultantly, the population soon begins to run out of food, some people do not eat enough food so their calorie intake falls and living standards fall. Many people live at subsistence level, eating just enough to survive. Large famines could arise where many people starve and die.
2) Lower GDP Per Capita.
As the population rapidly increases, population growth may exceed GDP growth, so GDP per capita falls. People cannot buy as much, living standards fall, some people fall into poverty and live at subsistence level and others may die.
3) Resource Pressure.
A higher population means more pressure on the factors of production to provide food and other goods and services required for basic living. Consequently, this means there are less resources available for investment in the manufacture sector and service sector, LDCs’ GDP growth is then restricted and they cannot grow or develop.
4) Environmental Damage.
As the population increases, more resources are extracted from the ground so the geosphere is damaged, more land is used and trees cut down so the biosphere is damaged. More people drive and use electrical goods, requiring more fossil fuels to be burned, so there are more dirty emissions pumped into the air and the atmosphere is damaged.
5) Dependency Ratio.
As an LDC’s population grows, the age structure may change drastically. An LDC usually sees more babies born, so there are more economically inactive people in the economy and the dependency ratio (the number of dependents divided by the number of workers) rises. Resultantly, people may not be able to afford basic food, clothes, education and/or healthcare for their growing families so they fall into poverty. Furthermore, the government have to spend more on healthcare for babies and education for children, so there is an opportunity cost of spending in other parts of the economy like the manufacture sector. Taxes may also need to rise to meet the increased healthcare and education spending, causing poverty to increase further.
However, population growth may not be a major constraint on development because: – In developed countries there does not seem to be any problem of food shortages as average daily calorie intake has increased over the years. – The US, Canada and EU have been limiting their agricultural production so there is scope to provide more food for the planet.
Amartya Sen asserts that people may be starving because they do not have the money or access/entitlement to buy food, not because there is not enough food available. – Recycling could be used, dirty emissions capped, the government could monitor environmental damage and develop green technology. – Maybe other factors are more important constraints on development.