What Is the Relationship between Economic Development and Population?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2019
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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.


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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Post 3

@ddljohn-- Well, no. There needs to be enough population to drive production. If there aren't enough people in a country, then production will go down. The economy will not grow and this will have a negative affect on economic development. This is the major reason why Western nations with low birthrates are allowing migrants. Because they want to make sure that there are enough workers for economic development to be sustained.

Population is such a difficult thing to control though. You can't force people to have more children and it's actually very difficult to force people to have fewer children too. China has been relatively successful with this but India, another very populated country, has not. And like we said, Western nations are increasingly relying on immigrants for their work force.

Post 2

@turquoise-- But why is it a problem if the population is reducing? Wouldn't it be better for economic development and standard of living because people will have access to more goods? If there are less people, everyone can get a bigger share of the pie right?

Post 1

I did not realize what a great impact population has on economic development until I started reading about countries making policies in regards to their population. Many European countries for example are not putting policies in place to encourage people to have children. I know that the German government provides financial assistance for families with children. On the other hand, as of 2013, China is trying to reduce their population by restricting the number of children families can have.

It's obvious that these countries know fully well that their population levels are impediments to their future success. We can probably infer from all this that too much and too little population are both harmful for economic development.

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