What are the Effects of Population Growth?

Ken Black

The effects of population growth are varied and vast. While population growth, of any species, may be beneficial to a certain extent, there may come a time when the number in the population exceeds the natural resources available to sustain it. This is referred to as overpopulation. The consequences of such an event are severe and major.

High-density housing is often seen as a sign of population growth that can lead to unhealthful conditions.
High-density housing is often seen as a sign of population growth that can lead to unhealthful conditions.

The population growth of any animal, if left uncontrolled can become burdensome. Farmers have noted, for many centuries, what the effects of an uncontrolled predator population can do to livestock. Once their natural prey run out, or are harder to find, the predators may turn to domesticated animals, despite the risks. This can cause a severe hardship on any family depending on those animals for survival.

Population growth of a predator species, such the wolf, can pose a problem for farmers and ranchers.
Population growth of a predator species, such the wolf, can pose a problem for farmers and ranchers.

However, when most think of a growing population, they do not think of other animals. The prime fear in most people's minds is the population growth of their own species. As humans leave a much larger footprint on the environment than any other creature, uncontrolled overgrowth can be especially devastating.

Access to food and clean water can be a pressing problem for the poor living in an area with extreme population growth.
Access to food and clean water can be a pressing problem for the poor living in an area with extreme population growth.

First, as the population grows the opportunities for quality, available housing may become an issue. More people crowded into less space is not a good combination in any locality. As space is taken up, it becomes more valuable. Eventually, it begins to affect to poorest in the area. In the long run the effect of population growth may be substandard housing or homelessness.

In other cases, access to food and clean water may be the main issue. This is an even more immediate problem than housing. As more people are faced with unsanitary sources of food, disease and famine begin to take root. If left unaffected, it will sweep through an entire population. In some cases, entire countries may be affected by the situation. Finding a solution often requires a multi-national effort.

Another negative effect of population growth is waste control. When there are relatively few people, controlling waste is a much simpler task. However, as populations grow, the waste increases dramatically. Finding a spot for this waste, or treating it in a way that does not poison the environment, is critically important. Regions of the world that do not have the ability to do this will find it leads to a number other serious issues and becomes a massive public health problem.

In general, the problem is not population growth in itself, it is a mismanagement of natural resources and waste that cause the majority of the problems. Many places have found effective strategies for dealing with such issues. Other locations, usually because of a lack of relative wealth, and perhaps engineering knowledge, have fallen behind.

Population growth could lead to homelessness.
Population growth could lead to homelessness.

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Discussion Comments


@Anon156527: The reason countries buy oil from other countries, even though that country already has oil, is for trade. It's all about comparative advantage and opportunity cost.

For example, country A can make ten cars in a year or a hundred computers. Country B can make 15 cars in a year or two hundred computers. Since country B is so much better at everything, why would they choose to trade with country A? It's about opportunity cost. If country B chooses to make cars, for example, it chooses to not make computers. To make the trade relationship work, the countries choose to make the product in which they have a comparative advantage.

Country A can make one car for every ten computers.

Country B can make one car for every 40 computers.

Country A's opportunity cost to make a car is lower than country B’s.

In other words, it only "costs" Country A ten computers, compared to 40. So even though Country A makes fewer cars, their opportunity cost is lower, so they have a comparative advantage in making cars. Similarly, when it comes to making computers, Country B is giving up less (cars) so it has a comparative advantage in making computers.

Country A specializes in cars and Country B specializes in computers, so the trade relationship works and both countries profit.

Similarly, the Middle East specializes in oil, and the US specializes in something else (I don't know what) but the trade relationship works. I learned this in international business class. Hope this helps your understanding.


How can an increase in population cause an increase in the workforce, which would improve economic growth?


I need help on an assignment. We have chosen that the population of Australia should stay the same. Ideas, anyone?


Overpopulation is a deterrent to sustainable utilisation of resources, especially in the developing nations.


How does population growth affect economics?


I'm thinking that somehow, as the world's population increases to X amount or percentage, there are increased wars and natural disasters.


People should stop having sex because they are over populating the world.


Zambia is one of the poor countries of the world with only 13 million people. Zambia has more natural resources than her people (population) but is still poor. Mismanagement of natural resources, in our case is the biggest problem leading to poverty than our population.

I think at the world level population growth is a challenge in addressing the global poverty. The population of the world now exceeds the natural resources available to sustain it. Unemployment in the world is a result of population growth.


The main problem in the world is the war. The US is stealing the resources of other countries. If each country can use its resources, they will never have a problem. The African and some asian countries are in this terrible situation because US and israel and some others want it to be so.


The good thing about population growth is that we can prosper more in various entertainment fields. Competitiveness will increase.

To offset overpopulation, people can have more fun that does not involve sexual acts. In so doing, the world's population will gradually wane, instead of jolting down to a minute amount.


How much room do you think it takes to grow animals for food (cows,chickens,pigs etc..)? What about grains, vegetables, nuts, and fruit? Would food grow as well in desert areas, mountainous areas, or jungle areas?

Would there be any space left for wild animals or natural plant life? Would there be any space left for shopping malls, movie theaters, concert halls, factories, office buildings or parking lots?


Stop stripping resources from one area and sending them to another part of the world. It makes no sense to pump oil out of one hole in the ground just to dump it in another hole in the ground (fertilizers on ag. fields). Stop pump the pumping water to to grow vegetables that are then shipped around the world. Start sending aid to your own countries inhabitants and get them straight before you start flinging your resources around the globe. Food aid to failing systems should stop.

If you have six children find a way to feed them or stop having them. Over population is never good. Think of the earth as a human being for a minute and imagine it is being overwhelmed by a major life threatening disease, and you have our situation.

We are killing our host and there is not much that any one person can due about it. But oil --we have passed peak oil while growing our populations exponentially based on readily available cheap oil. Folks, that time period has passed.

If the middle east explodes into some kind of anti west revolution then we are going to be in the dark quickly. Loss of oil (when it happens, not if) will cause a bottle neck event for humans. Population counts will drop precipitously in a post-industrial culture, as it will take generations to educate the majority of the people how to care for themselves and how to produce their own food. This is knowledge that has been lost in my world. -Ryan T.


I need some more examples on the effects of overpopulation, be it in human societies, animal societies, etc.

I already have some examples: the deer on St. Matthew island, Rapa Nui. It's one of the most underestimated problems we face now and in the future.


I don't agree with what you are saying about that population growth isn't a problem in itself.

In the long run, it is. No matter how you put it, earths resources are limited. Eg: land space: if it is full it is full, you cannot create more space.

No matter how much effort you put in better technology, better recycling, more qualitative energy use, it doesn't mean anything if the population keeps growing constantly.


I need more information on how population affects housing. It's for a research project and i really need help. Any suggestions or advice would be nice.


i live in india which is heavily overpopulated.

the two states of uttar pradesh and bihar themselves have a population of 300 million people -- equivalent to the US population. They also happen to be India's two poorer states.

But, nevertheless, I don't think the government should interfere with how many children a couple should have, especially not just one. Maybe a maximum of three or even more if the couple is financially able to take care of their children.

But the problem in India is poor families have seven, eight or nine children, and rich and middle class usually not more than three.


Over population leads to pollution and also poverty. Poverty is mainly because of unemployment issues. All these issues are correlated.

The best way to tackle this situation is make people understand the effects of population. Have only one child in the family and have safe sex.


Help! I need help now, please. What are the effects of population growth? I need five. And explain each, please. This time, I need answers!


there's no way overpopulation is a good thing and it can't even be made a good thing ever!


No, population growth will eventually lead to the downfall of life itself. That is, unless nuclear bombs don't kill us before that.

While certain countries and therefore the people within those countries become more and more subject to poverty, unfortunately the only 'fun' thing they have in their lives is sex. Essentially it is inevitable that life itself will be conceded to the exponentially growing population increments. However maybe, just maybe, nuclear bombs may kill off many of the population, then the few that survive can be educated on how to maintain low population levels.

I think not, we need to look at live through the perspective of reality and realize our greater intelligence over other species has ultimately fostered greed which will never be controlled and there fore a paradox arises in which this 'greater intelligence' has in fact functioned against us to shorten the potential of existence on earth.

But what can we do? nothing, unless we have access to power. In the mean time, all we can do is enjoy what life has to offer.=)


by motivating people to have small families,

yes, there's a way to make overpopulation a good thing: by giving them knowledge and to work hard on agriculture with good methods and technology.


What are some effective strategies for dealing with overpopulation and could there be a way to make overpopulation a good thing?

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