Tuesday, 7 June 2011



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ne of the major issues central to every economy is the impact of a growing trend of the population on development. It is generally believed that population and development are interconnected. Specifically, the level of development depends on population growth trend. There is evidence to show that economies characterized by rapid growing populations, without concomitant growth in the capacity utilization are affected by the worst manifestations of underdevelopment.
 Better still, there is an established fact that the existence of an efficient and effective human capital is the key to economic growth and development in any nation. This stems from the fact that every other facility and resource required for economic development is driven by the availability of human capital. More so, in the absence of effective human capital development, an increasing population can have adverse effect on the economic growth of a nation. This is because a lot more resources are taken out to manage and cater for the teeming population that the same can generate. It therefore means that if economic growth is a precondition for development then it is correct to state that the development of a nation is significantly dependent on   the growth of its population. This effect or impact can be either negative or positive depending on the existence of certain factors and conditions, which when studied and understood can be controlled to ensure continuous and sustainable economic growth and development.
Hence, giving due attention to the  frustration of the people,  the disappointing leadership as well as the ailing economy that leaves majority of Nigerians living under sub-human conditions and overstretched underdevelopment, it becomes imperative to address the issues surrounding Population growth and its impact on  development in Nigeria.
Since the first successfully attempted post independence population census carried out in Nigeria in 1964 which put the population at 55.6 million people, it became clear that the Nigerian population had the potential for rapid population growth. The November 1991 population census put the population at 88.5 million people. The analysis of this data helped improve national development planning especially at the time.
With a birth rate of about 40 per 1,000 and a death rate of about 15 per 1,000, the Nigerian population is growing at a rapid rate of about 3% per annum, 2.9% according to the 2007 UNDP report. The average Nigerian woman gives birth to six children in her lifetime; however the educated Nigerian woman gives birth to lesser number at about the average of three.
The most recent census carried out in 2006 has put the population at about 140 million people with Kano state being the most populated state with over 9 million people. It is estimated that the Nigerian population would have hit the peak of 204 million by 2010.
From a modest population of 55.6 million according to the first accepted post-independence population census to our present estimated population of 140 million, our population has grown at a rather monstrous rate of about 250%. It is quite amazing that anyone could possibly imagine that the rate of economic growth and development would have matched this rate.
Nigeria is the most populous nation in Africa and the 10th in the world. The population growth rate is influenced by the relationship between the three demographic processes of fertility, mortality and migration. The annual growth rate of the
Nigerian population is believed to have risen steadily from an estimated 2.8 per cent in the 1960s to around 3.3 per cent in the 1985 to 1990 period. Although a steady decline in the growth rate is believed to have been in progress in the 1990s, the rate is still relatively high for (economic) comfort.
For instance, a growth rate of 3.3 per cent per annum suggests a population doubling time of 22 years. The reality of this scenario might not necessarily be with the absolute size of the population but, more importantly, with the implications of the growth rate for the future size of the population, and the ability of the economy to grow commensurately with and, therefore, cope with the increase in population size.
The relatively low mortality of about 13 to 14 per 1000 (crude death rate) and a declining infant mortality rate, as well as the increasing life expectancy in tile population, all suggest higher survival chances and therefore, a swell in the size of future population.
The major factor responsible for the rapid increase in the population of the country is the relatively high fertility level as portrayed by a total fertility rate of about 6.0 live-births per woman in the1990s.
The Nigerian fertility survey during 1981/82 put the average number of child birth per woman (i.e. total fertility rate) at 6.4. Although the data here suggest a slight decline, the level is still relatively high. It seems an appreciable fall in fertility level in the country would depend on achieving a significant change in the cultural, socio psychological and economic attitude of Nigerians towards children.
A frontal approach was taken in pursuance of this goal when, in 1988, Nigeria adopted a National Population Policy which seeks to reduce population growth rate through voluntary fertility regulation, and to promote the health and welfare of mothers and children to improve the quality of life of all Nigerians. The main thrust of the policy is the recommendation to young couples not to have more than four children per family (or per woman) and to attain a reduction of the population of women bearing more than four children by 80 per cent by the year 2000.
Although numerous estimates of the Nigerian population were made during the colonial period, the first attempt at a nationwide census was during 1952-53. This attempt yielded a total population figure of 31.6 million within the current boundaries of the country. This census has usually been considered an undercount for a number of reasons: apprehension that the census was related to tax collection; political tension at the time in eastern Nigeria; logistical difficulties in reaching many remote areas; and inadequate training of enumerators in some areas. The extent of undercounting has been estimated at 10 percent or less, although accuracy probably varied among the regions. Despite its difficulties, the 1952-53 censuses have generally been seen as less problematic than any of its successors.
Subsequent attempts to conduct a reliable post independence census have been mired in controversy, and only one was officially accepted. The first attempt, in mid-1962, was canceled after much controversy and allegations of over counting in many areas. A second attempt in 1963, which was officially accepted, also was encumbered with charges of inaccuracy and manipulation for regional and local political purposes. Indeed, the official 1963 figure of 55.6 million as total national population is inconsistent with the census of a decade earlier because it implies a virtually impossible annual growth rate of 5.8 percent. In addition to likely inflation of the aggregate figure, significant intraregional anomalies emerge from a close comparison of the 1953 and 1963 figures. In portions of the southeast, for example, the two sets of data imply that some nonurban local government areas (LGAs) had increased at a rate of almost 13 percent per year, while other neighboring areas experienced a minute growth rate of 0.5 percent per year. Despite the controversy, the results of the 1963 census were eventually accepted.
After the civil war of 1967-70, an attempt was made to hold a census in 1973, but the results were canceled in the face of repeated controversy. No subsequent nationwide census had been held as of 1990, although there have been various attempts to derive population estimates at a state or local level. Most official national population estimates are based on projections from the 1963 census.
The great improvements in transport and accessibility of most areas, in technological capability, and in the level of education throughout the country, as well as the generalized acceptance of national coherence and legitimacy, favored the success of the fall 1991 census. It was to be conducted in about 250,000 enumeration areas by the National Population Commission, with offices in each of the country's LGAs. To reduce possible controversy, religious and ethnic identification would be excluded from the census forms, and verification of state results would be handled by supervisors from outside the state. Some analysts believe that the effort to carry out a reliable census with perceived legitimacy might become an unexpectedly positive exercise, reinforcing a sense of shared nationhood and providing a model for the attempt to overcome regional and ethnic differences.
In this section, we shall briefly examine the concepts of Economic Development and Population Growth. Here the concept of Population Growth will be considered in the light of the Demographic Transition theory.
In strict economic term, development traditionally means the capacity of a national economy whose initial economic condition has been more or less static for a long time to generate and sustain an annual increase in its Gross National Product (GNP) at rates of perhaps 5%-7% or more. In recent times however, economic development has been redefined in terms of poverty, inequality and unemployment within the context of a growing economy. In the simplest of terms, economic development may be defined as economic growth accompanied by desirable changes. No economy can claim to be developed without adjusting its citizenry to a better standard of living. If all 3 of poverty, inequality and unemployment have declined from high levels, then beyond reasonable doubt, it has been a period of development for the country in question. However, if 1 or 2 of these problems have been growing worse especially if all 3 have, it will indeed be very strange to call the result economic development even if per capita income has doubled.
The orthodox or pessimistic position regarding the impact of population growth can be dated at least from Thomas R. Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population. This position emphasizes the obstacles to growth caused by diminishing returns as well as the delirious effects of high rate of population growth on savings and investments and therefore, future growth. In the study of population dynamics an oft-remarked statistical relationship is the high negative correlation between income level and population growth rates. Several efforts have been made to explain this observed relationship, often referred to as the theory of demographic transition. Broadly speaking, this theory postulates four stages through which population dynamics move. In the first stage, populations are characterized by high birth rates and high death rates. In the second stage, a rising real incomes, brought about by improved nutrition and developments in public health, leading to the falls in unintended death rates lower pressures on families and communities to regulate population.
In the third stage, economic and environmental forces such as costs of childbearing and family care, reduced benefits of large family-size, higher opportunity costs of employment in the home, changes in the economic roles and status of women, famine and drought lead to reduced fertility rates.
 In the final stage, economies with relatively high income per person would be characterized by low, and approximately equal, birth and death rates, and so stable population sizes.
The world human population was estimated to be 5.66 billion in 1994. United Nations forecasts that it will continue to grow to about 11 billion by year 2100. At present the world population is rising at about 94 million persons per year. If we are to look at this phenomenon in absolute terms, we may conclude that this is a higher amount of growth than ever before; but the percentage rate of population growth is well below its historical peak. In fact it appears to be falling continuously.
Similarly, for most of the developing countries the remarkable increases in life expectancy have been compressed into briefer interval of time with major improvements taking place after the Second World War and continued to the
Present day. It is argued that the major cause of this phenomenal improvement in life expectancy has been a decline in mortality rates throughout the age structure.

As at 1950 before independence, Nigerian population stood at less than 50 million. It then witnessed a phenomenal growth throughout the succeeding three decades. The controversial population census conducted in 1991 puts the country's population at 88 million, representing 60 per cent increase over the 1950 figures. World Resources Institute (WRI) also forecasts the country's population to hit the 250 million mark by the year 2020. What this means is that Nigeria's population grew and will continue to grow at a rate ranging between 2.5 and 3.5 per cent annually. More so, the Institute further estimated a fertility rate of 6.45 per cent for the country. In lieu of this fact, it therefore becomes necessary that the nation at this present time in the political history of the country consider what is the economic implication of this phenomenal growth of population and high fertility rate on development in Nigeria?
Population has its effects on development and mostly when its rate is increasing, retarded growth is inevitable. High population growth especially in Nigeria is a challenge for three major reasons. First, rapid population growth puts a lot of stress on ecosystems. Many different issues such as food security, land tenure, environmental degradation and water supply do have a demographic background. Civil strife is also often caused by population pressure on scarce resources. Secondly, rapid population growth impacts on the economy because governments need to provide human capital investments for their population --education, health, etc. When population grows too fast such investments become logistically and financially very difficult to meet. In addition, rapid population growth may slow down the increase of income per capita. For example, if the economy expands at six percent per year but the population at three percent, the revenue per capita will expand only three percent. The third issue is linked to the health of women and their children as well as the status of women in society. Pregnancies that are too early, too late and too many are not conducive to good health outcomes.

All the above mentioned consequences of alarming population Growth might be considered by an individual as theoretical possibilities which might never find its place in the reality that surrounds an economy or a country. However we shall make effort to trace in clear terms the issues of underdevelopment that have resulted from skyrocketing population trend in Nigeria.
Over the years population growth has contributed to Rural-Urban migration and its concomitant adverse effect of congestion and overcrowding. A major reason for rural-urban migration is the dual nature of the economy in Nigeria. In urban areas, economic development brings about higher standards of living, but, in rural areas, a subsistence economy predominates. The urban centers like Lagos, Port Harcourt, Warri, Jos, Kaduna and Kano have grown very fast. Abuja, the Federal Capital City and some of the new State capitals have also experienced phenomenal growth as a result of migration. Rapid urban growth has resulted in problems of urban congestion or overcrowding, poor housing, poor environmental sanitation, unemployment, crimes and other social vices which have come to characterize Nigeria's large urban centre’s, this coupled with rapid population growth results in small or no growth in per capita income. Thus, it is worthy of note that the attempt on the part of government to correct the problem of rural- urban migration cannot encourage desired development until measures to curtail the current population growth rate is integrated in any policy adopted..
Even though Nigeria ranks 41st on the GDP scale, Nigeria ranks closer to the bottom in the per capita GDP amongst the world nations. Our huge population crowded within our geographical boundaries accounts for this disparity. Other oil producing nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait etc have smaller populations which enable them have a much higher per capita income. Total GDP/GNP is not necessarily a measurement of national productivity rather per capita GDP is. Our rather excessive population growth has become a hindrance to our economic development.
From available statistics from Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the gross domestic products (GDP) computed at 1984 factor cost for the period 1970/71 stood at N54, 148.9 million. It grew steadily between 1972/73 and 1979. By 1980, the GDP had risen to N96, 186.6 million. However, it plummeted from the 1981 figure of N70, 395.9 million to N77, 752.5 million in 1988. Then the economy recovered marginally. The GDP stood at N113, 000 in 1998.
 With an annual average rate of growth of GDP of 2.18 per cent little wonder the economy has not been able to cope with the seeming population explosion. This can be seen from available statistics on per capita income. Again, the WRI (World Resource Institute) estimated the percentage change of Nigeria’s per capita income for the last 10 years to be minus 75.4. Similarly, agriculture became severely stressed by the teeming population. For example, the percentage change of the total cropland ('000 per hectare) between the last 10 years was minus 21.3. The fact that the percentage feed to livestock per capita (0.13) was lower than percentage change of total cereal production within the same period indicates that environmental resources were under stress. Out of a regional total forests area of 187, 784 hectares (1990 estimate); Nigeria occupies a mere 15, 785 hectares. But what is more disturbing is the rate of deforestation of this meager vegetation. WRI put the percentage rate of deforestation of Nigeria’s natural forests between 1980 and 1992 to be 7.1! Also the biodiversity resources are no less spared. Already on the list of threatened flora and fauna are 22 mammals, 9 plants (9.0) and 8 birds as at 1994. The same thing can be said of freshwater, marine and coastal resources.
There is a consensus among environmental researchers and experts over the major cause of environmental problems in Nigeria. Apart from natural processes, such as atmospheric and climatic change, it is agreed that anthropogenic sources (human activities) are essentially responsible for environmental degradation in Nigeria, which is one of the problem of development


To tackle the problem of population and its scourge on development in Nigeria, we suggest the following;
There is no doubt that family planning programme has being severally recommended in scholarly publications, never the less its effectiveness in redressing the population issue cannot be overemphasized. Government should encourage the reduction in desired or chosen family size. In taking this policy, some salient issue such as the role of education, incentives for small family size, discouragement of early marriage and National orientation scheme must be given consideration. First to consider is increased level of education, particularly education of women. This is likely to affect fertility in three related ways. One, education may enhance the effectiveness of contraceptive and other family planning programmes. Two, greater participation in education may contribute towards an increase in status of women. Studies have shown that where females have low status roles in the culture of a society, fertility rates are likely to be high. Three, education will tend to reduce desired family-size by increasing the opportunity cost of child raising -decreasing labour market gender discrimination, decreasing the marginal benefits of children through adequate provision for old age, particularly pension.
Government can also influence desired family-size through financial incentives. The relatively low mortality of about 13 to 14 per 1000 (crude death rate) and a declining infant mortality rate, as well as the increasing life expectancy in tile population, all suggest higher survival chances and therefore an increase in the size of the population in the future.
It is no doubt that family is not a new policy action in the history attempts and policy targeted at curbing the population Problem. Although we have given special note of important issues that should be addressed in driving home the far-reaching effect of an effective family Programme, some other important issues must not be left un-attended to. Here, the attention of policy makers and executing team is called to such area as the management of the entire policy making and implementing process. The problems with past policies are not far-fetched; they were not marked by definite intention and target. Hence, the duty rest upon the government to ensure that Purpose is given to the planning and Implementation of policy.

At a glance, it is clear that there is a relationship between economic development and population growth. The underdevelopment of many nations including Nigeria has been linked with constantly increasing rates of population growth but that is not to say it doesn’t have its positive effects on the economy for large bases of efficient human capital has been proven to boost economic growth and development of other nations such as U.S.A and France.
Development has been defined in the light of sustained increases in Gross National Product (GNP) in an economy. It can be redefined in terms of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
This article emphasizes the position of Thomas Malthus regarding the impact of population growth. The theory of demographic transition is important in the issue of population growth which postulates the four stages through which population dynamics move. Learning from this Theory, we derive the implication for the developing country to which Nigeria belongs. As forecasted by the United Nations, the world human population will continually grow at an alarming rate with developing nations having a larger share of the percentage growth rate. Thus, Nigeria is trapped in this Population growth bane.
As a result of rapidly increasing population rate in Nigeria, it becomes imperative that the economic implications of this population growth rate and high fertility rate be considered.positive changes. The classic issue of China gives clue to what are expected from the government in tackling this issue. A problem is no sooner solved than it is identified. However, the Nigerian Case as not supported this assertion in the History of Policy making in the country. Hence, it is high time, the nation take her destiny into her hand by taking the bull by the horn. From this stand point, the nation is not far from maximizing the gains of democracy that she has always sought to achieve.

Ibrahim, Mantu, Implications of Population Growth for the Nigerian Economy and the Environment, 2001.
Malthus Thomas Robert (1826). An Essay on The Prínciple of Population : A view of its past and present effect on Human happiness, 6th edition London : John Murray
 “Nigerian Counting Controversies”, bbc.co.uk
“Historical Estimates of World Population, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006” www.census.gov/ipc.


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