Is Overpopulation the Cause of Poverty in Asian Countries?

Posted on July 19, 2023 by Cheapest Assignment

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Overpopulation the biggest issue in South Asia is a leading social argument. This argument is repeated many times over decades that it has become a common wisdom nowadays. It cannot be denied that a lot of well-educated individuals and high government officials, despite being aware of the issue explain the inability of the government of the South Asian countries to reduce poverty.

As per Bharadwaj, several issues are associated with this simple proposition.  First of all, the population cannot be considered a significant measure by itself as it does not succeed in accounting for the dimension of the land in which the population is contained. Certain countries like Russia have a large area of land (Bharadwaj, 2014). On the other hand countries, like Singapore have a smaller area of land.  Hence, the suitable indicator to consider to make valid comparisons is the density of the population, i.e. population per unit of area of land.

Considering this as an indicator, Chakraborty said that it could also be analyzed as Belgium has a very high density of population, and Pakistan is in the middle position along Somalia acquiring a very low rank. However, the density of population in South Asian countries is much higher than in any part of the world (Chakraborty, 2014). The word poverty itself denotes a meaning which implies the condition of having low income or wealth that results in a very low standard of living condition. Poverty, in the most extreme form, can be described as the lack of basic human needs, and insufficient quantities of both non-material and material resources like housing, education, income, health services, culture, and knowledge.

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Poverty Can Be Assessed In Three Ways

According to the survey by The World Bank poverty can be assessed in three ways. First, the measure of welfare comes to play, secondly, the choice and estimation of the poverty line followed by choosing and estimating a poverty indicator should be considered.  Welfare can further be divided into two parts, monetary and non-monetary. As per Ellis, a Choice has to be made between income and consumption as an indicator to estimate the monetary measures of poverty. Consumption can be considered a better indicator for the measurement of poverty than considering income (Ellis, 2013). Poverty is not only regarding insufficient consumption or income but also about insufficient outcomes such as nutrition, literacy, health, insecurity, deficient social relations, low self-confidence, powerlessness, and insecurity. As per Garg, Poverty lines are the cut-off points that separate the non-poor from the poor. These lines can be monetary as well as non-monetary. The application of multiple lines can assist in clearly observing the various levels of poverty. There are two ways of fixing poverty lines in an absolute or relative way (Garg, 2016). Three measures are commonly used to measure poverty such as incidence of poverty which can be considered as headcount index, depth of poverty, i.e. poverty gap, and severity of poverty such as squared poverty gap.

Poverty can be considered a social phenomenon that has many implications as a result of it. The primary factors that pave the way for poverty are overpopulation as the leading cause. Unequal distribution of resources in the economy of the world is also one of the factors that lead to poverty in Asian countries. According to Headey, the inability to meet the high standards of cost of living as well the high standards of living along with inadequate education contributes as factors to poverty in Asian countries (Headey, 2016). Environmental degradation, lesser employment opportunities, demographic and economic trends, and welfare incentives also add to poverty in Asian countries.

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Overpopulation can be considered as the situation of having a large number of people while the resources are limited and space is not sufficient.  According to Headey, the colonialism legacy has implications for the unequal distribution of global resources in the economy of the world. Certain social scientists state that the developed countries that are wealthier continue to inculcate a form of colonialism which is known as neo-colonialism. The developed nations have also been able to obtain natural resources from the poorer countries (Headey, 2016). Citizens of developed nations may have resources and wealth in more significant amounts than people in developing countries. The standard of living of people living in these countries is also basically higher. There is a difference in the means of living of people between developing and developed countries. Citizens would consider adequate resources and wealth in the developing countries which are scarce for the poor people in the developed countries. The people in the developed countries also have a very high cost of living.

Is Overpopulation the Cause of Poverty in Asian Countries?

Figure 1: Population Growth in India

Source: United Nations Population Division

In Asian countries, illiteracy and lack of education are very common factors that increase poverty. The government of most Asian countries cannot afford to facilitate good public schools. As per Kumar, Bhutani & Aggarwal, the unemployment rates may also be high in the developed countries. High unemployment results in a greater level of poverty.  Poverty in Asian countries has become an unavoidable problem. People in Asian countries face various challenges and problems to sustain the theory of living (Kumar, Bhutani & Aggarwal, 2016). From a certain perspective, poor people live in rural areas while rich people live in urban areas. In some context, it can be said that poverty in Asian countries is associated with the villages. The perceptions of the public community towards the people who stay in the villages have low quality and quantity of education as well as low earnings. The people in rural areas mostly engage themselves in aquaculture, agriculture, and the farming sector. These families have a lower standard of living as a result of poverty (Malik, 2015).

The dramatic growth of the population can be regarded as a population explosion within the past few decades. The mortality and fertility levels along with the age structure have been leading to the uneven distribution of the population in Asian countries. The transition of rates of high birth and death to rates of low birth and death has to be considered also (Malik, 2015). In the developing countries in the Asian region, the death rate has reduced to a significant extent due to the improvement in health care and medicine leading to high rates of fertility. Therefore, the growth in the population is the highest in Asian countries.

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Controversy in theories:

It has also been analyzed that the birth rates are very high in Asian countries. According to the theory of Thomas Malthus, there is a relationship between economic development and the growth in the population. According to the theory, poor countries are inflicted with poverty because of the increasing growth of population.

As per Uniyal, et al, the elimination of the over-population issue will result in the resolution of the problem of poverty. To reduce the extra population preventive and positive checks are needed to be incorporated. Positive checks would include natural disasters, war, famine, etc. that according to Thomas are good ways to eliminate the mass of unnecessary people who are a burden to society (Uniyal, et al., 2016).

Preventive checks would be considered as moral restrain as birth control in the past was considered a sin according to the conventional Catholic Church. Malthus was unaware of the scientific progress that was about to occur and hence came up with the theory that the production of food will not be sufficient for the ever-increasing growth of the population. Thus, the solution to the problem was to eliminate the poor people. As per Uniyal, et al, the theory was controversial and criticized. Many economists and theorists perceive the minimization of the growth of the population through extreme measures as the most convenient and easiest method of restoring economic prosperity in Asian countries. They also believe that the increase in the unrestrained population is the main reason behind the low standard of living which leads to malnutrition, environmental degradation, ill health, and various other social and economic problems (Uniyal, et al., 2016).

The theory of the “population-poverty cycle” states that overpopulation results in economic, psychological, and social problems and further complicate them. With the growth of more children every single day, the savings rate per individual in every household; even at the national level is lowered. Due to the uncontrolled growth of the population, the governments of the Asian countries fail to provide the most necessities for the current generation, eventually leading to poverty that is transferred to the next generation.

At present, China is the most populous country in the world. It has undertaken one of the most coercive and harsh policies for population control one child per family in the early 1980s. Although this policy significantly reduced the rate of population growth it also gave rise to many socio-economic controversies and problems. However, the reduction in the rate of fertility in China through the policy of one child is less successful than other approaches that are based on the empowerment and education of women in certain parts of Asian countries (Uniyal, et al., 2016). This reflects that the population is no longer a problem in specific parts of Asian countries even if there is a lagging growth in the economy by concentrating on the empowerment of the people, especially women.

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Political reference:

An interesting situation can be considered while analyzing the relationship between overpopulation and poverty. During the independence of Bangladesh, the remaining parts of Pakistan lost more than half of its population. The small part of the land that was widely believed to be having huge reserves of natural resources came in the part of West Pakistan. As per Kaushik, et al, the question arises that whether the significant reduction in the population and the eradication of the resource that was drained result in an immediate economic boost for Pakistan (Kaushik, et al., 2016). The simple association of population and development is not sufficient for providing an answer to the question. It should also be considered that even the density of the population is an incomplete measure as the entire land in the country is equivalently valuable when the matter arises to support the population. Mountains and deserts have less value in this context. The cultivable and habitable land is important.  China and Japan have small endowments in comparison to other Asian countries.

However, Japan; despite its lack of natural resources is considered among the richest countries in the world. China also has been recording high economic growth for past years after eradicating poverty from the lives of millions of people (Kaushik, et al., 2016). The proposition does not provide succeed in explaining sufficiently what has been happening in these two countries. Thus, it can be argued that poverty cannot be the only result of overpopulation. Instead, it can be stated that overpopulation could also be a result of poverty. The empirical evidence presents that as households become better, the average size of the family tends to minimize.

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The issue is much more complicated than it appears. The point of giving these instances is to emphasize the need to eradicate the simple explanation for the issue of poverty in Asian countries.  The belief that overpopulation is the cause of poverty promotes a sense of helplessness as there is no obvious solution. Accepting the fact that Asian countries are overpopulated, nothing can be done with the people who are already present and living there. It would be sensible to invest in the people to make them as productive as possible to reduce poverty and promote development economically and socially.

The government of these countries must take action in forming new policies regarding eliminating poverty in the respective countries and providing better living countries. Eradication of poverty by reduction of the growth of population by the policies in the Asian countries will also lead to the provision of jobs for the unemployed, and the building of free schools for the residents to improve the living conditions of the people affected by poverty. The governments of Asian countries should also regulate births in the countries. By the effects and causes of poverty that are stated, the solution to the existing problem can be derived and put into execution by the government to ensure a better future.

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Bharadwaj, A., 2014. Is poverty the mother of crime? Empirical evidence of the impact of socioeconomic factors on crime in India. Atlantic Review of Economics1, p.1.

Chakraborty, S., 2014. Child Poverty in India: Regional Variation, Determinants, and Policy Options. Journal of Economic Policy and Research9(2), p.41.

Ellis, E.C., 2013. Overpopulation is not the problem. New York Times13.

Garg, S., 2016. Impact of Overpopulation on Land Use Pattern. Environmental Issues Surrounding Human Overpopulation, p.137.

Headey, D.D., 2016. Food prices and poverty. The World Bank Economic Review, p.lhw064.

Kaushik, G., Patil, S.S., Singhal, P. and Chel, A.L., 2016. Overpopulation and Its Association with Natural Disasters: A Case Study of Indian Tsunami, 2004. Environmental Issues Surrounding Human Overpopulation, p.189.

Kumar, M., Bhutani, K. and Aggarwal, S., 2016. Mapping Causes and Implications of India’s Skewed Sex Ratio and Poverty problem using Fuzzy & Neutrosophic Relational Maps. Neutrosophic Sets & Systems11.

Malik, S.Y., 2015. Population, Poverty, and Gender: A Nexus of Interconnected Issues in Achieving Universal Primary Education in Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences (PJSS)35(2), pp.1097-1108.

Singh, R., Srivastava, P., Singh, P., Upadhyay, S. and Raghubanshi, A.S., 2016. Human Overpopulation and Food Security: Challenges for the Agriculture. Environmental Issues Surrounding Human Overpopulation, p.12.

Uniyal, S., Paliwal, R., Kaphaliya, B. and Sharma, R.K., 2016. Human Overpopulation: Impact on Environment. Environmental Issues Surrounding Human Overpopulation, 738(632), p.1.

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