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What Is the Relationship Between Economic Development and Population?

As economic development occurs, the residents of a region should be able to recognize improvements in living standards, such as in the construction of additional roadways.
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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 25 October 2014
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Economic development and population are closely linked, as a weak economy generally cannot support a large population, and a large population needs a strong economy to sustain itself. A given area's economy is characterized by the availability of such resources as raw materials and labor, productive capacity in the form of tools and factories, and the supply and demand of the various goods and services available. A strong economy is able to provide for most, if not all, of the wants and needs of those belonging to a given economic system while a weak economy often cannot. Economic development and population growth tend to go hand-in-hand, as a growing economy can provide for the needs of a growing population. When a large population suffers from a declining economy, however, it may be difficult or impossible for people to obtain proper housing, food, and other necessities.

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There is a wide range of explanations for the connection between economic development and population. A strong economy may provide people with more time and money, thereby allowing them to have and raise more children without worrying about having the necessary resources available. Strong economies often bring about access to better medical care as well, which can reduce infant mortality rates and extend lifespans. Economic development and population tend to go together because economic development leads to improvements in many aspects of a society that drastically affect quality and safety of life. These include environmental sustainability, housing, food quality and availability, infrastructure improvement, and availability of a variety of social services.

The connection between economic development and population can work in reverse as well. A declining economy may not be able to support the population of a given society. Worsening conditions could prompt people to have fewer children, and lack of money may prevent people from accessing quality health care. In particularly bad cases, a declining economy might even result in a loss of access to quality food and housing, thereby drastically reducing the capacity of an economy to support a sizable population.

A growing population both requires and provides for the growth of an economy. Larger populations provide more consumers and more workers, so the demand for products and services and the ability to produce them grow together. A declining population, therefore, results in decreased demand for goods and services as well as a decrease in available workers. Economic development and population, then, both affect each other, and changes in one can drastically shift the direction of the other.

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