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 Population - the ultimate resource
 
Population problems are imaginary
The Guardian, Nigeria Thursday, September 09, 2010

Thompson Ayodele
The argument that population retards economic growth is dangerous. This contradicts all the facts and evidence in front of us. Many sparsely populated countries are incredibly poor. Whether a nation is poor or rich depends on the availability of economic framework that provides incentives for working hard and taking risks. The key elements of such framework are economic liberty, secured property rights and fair and sensible rules of the market that are enforced equally. The argument that population retards economic growth is dangerous, writes Thompson Ayodele and Olusegun Sotola in The Guardian.

...

For the past three decades, there have been debates whether there is a
link between population and economic growth. The argument has been that
increased population retards economic growth. This assertion is dangerous.
It merely draws attention away from the real barriers to economic growth.

...

An increase in population is an impetus for growth. The pattern of population
growth in Nigeria in the last two decades does not indicate that an
increase in population will lead to demographic disaster.

Between 1991 and 2008, Nigeria population increased from 88 million to 150
million, an increase of about 70 per cent. If an increase of about 70 per
cent in 17 years did not have demographic effect, then the argument that
demographic disaster will occur in 2050 when the population climbs to 213
million (an increase of 42 per cent in 44 years) seems not to hold water.
On the contrary, the problem is not too many people but lack of economic
freedom. Therefore, the usual gloom-doom associated with increased in
population is largely misplaced.

In actual fact, a long-term outlook of Nigeria population indicates the
likelihood of a decline. The population increased by over 70 per cent
between 1991 and 2008 (17 Years), and it will be growing by only 42 per
cent in 44 years.

...

Contrary to this, research has shown that the more the people, the more
the prosperity. It is more likely to see highly creative and innovative
people in China, India, Indonesia and Nigeria than other small countries.
Across the world, there are more millionaires in big cities than sparsely
populated countryside.  It may interest us to know that famine and
starvation has occurred in sparsely populated countries than densely
populated ones. Julian Simon, in one of his publications,  argues that
less people don’t actually bring about economic growth. He rhetorically
asks: why are our ancestors not more prosperous when they were just a few
thousands on the planet?

...

The implication of reduced population in economic term is on
entrepreneurship and economic development. This will limit the market
prospects for future products. Increased in the number of newborns alone
can stimulate the economy. They can create market for some set of goods
which interlink with the whole economy. More importantly, they grow up
into productive work force. They marry, pay tax, defend the country
against external aggression and care for the elderly.

...

The beliefs that high population density breads poverty flew in the face
of facts. If population density causes poverty, Japan and Hong Kong should
be the poorest parts of the world today. These are areas with high
population density but highly prosperous despite limited landmass.

...

Practical examples exist in aged society. Many developed economies are at
present promoting population growth. This is noticeable in some
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries
where policy makers have designed policies aimed at arresting the ageing
population. A perfect example is Australia. Since May 2004 Australia
government has announced a “Baby Bonus” policy, paying women an initial
A$3,000 per new child. The campaign since 2004 has been tagged: one baby
for your husband and one for your wife and one for the country.

...

It is incontrovertible that human beings are the ultimate resource. Other
resources are useless without human innovation and exertion. An increase
human’s number should therefore not be viewed as a disaster. The
population problem is a bogeyman. It prevents us from seeing human beings
as the ultimate resource. Rather proponents of high population encourage
people to think that people are a burden who are incapable of changing
their economic conditions without government help. However, the truth
remains that government is the big problem.

It is government policies which hinder wealth creation that are keeping
the people poor, under-achieved and less innovative. Whether a nation is
poor or rich depends on the availability of economic framework that
provides incentives for working hard and taking risks. The key elements of
such framework are economic liberty, secured property rights and fair and
sensible rules of the market that are enforced equally.

...

This article was published in the The Guardian on Thursday, September 09, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Author : Mr Ayodele is a Project 21 associate and, the Executive Director of Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, based in Lagos, Nigeria.
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