Population: World Population, Definition, Growth Rate, Problems and Solutions

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What is the current world population?

World population has been currently estimated by the United Nations to be 7.6 billion in 2017 and has an average growth rate of 1.1% and it is expected to keep growing. Projections have put the total population at 8.6 billion by mid-2030, 9.8 billion by mid-2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Many nations with rapid population growth have low standards of living, while many nations with low rates of population growth have high standards of living.

What is population?

Most definition of population have some kind of spatial reference, the simplest and least restrictive of these is that: A population is a group of individuals of the same species that live together in a particular area. Ecologists commonly use this particular definition; it gives rise to serious difficulties and misinterpretations. However, a more rigorous definition will include the spatial dimension more precisely, for instance a group of individuals of the same species that live together in a geographical area of sufficient size that all the requirements for reproduction, survival and migration can be met.

A population is however, a group of individuals of the same species living together in the same place, and that possess and average set of properties, such as birth rates and death rates. This definition recognizes that population are made up of individual organisms for instance, the humans, but does not require that we know how individual give birth or die, or where they are located in space. Instead, the population is characterized by averages birth and death rates and variability in this average is treated as a statistical property of the population. Simpler way to define population this: Population is the total number of people living in an area at a particular time.

Population constitute a vital component of the resource base and the development potential of any country. The important element of the population in this case is its size, the rate of the growth, spatial distribution, demographic structure and quality in terms of the level of education, health and social welfare. It is however important to note that most of the change in population size and density is due to births and deaths rather than immigration and emigration because the theory of population dynamic is based on this assumption.

Components of population

  • Size
  • Growth rate
  • Spatal distribution
  • Demography structure
  • Quality of populaation
  • The size– this has to do with the number of the population, how big or how small a country population is. For instanceNigeria is estimated to be at 186 million currently.
  • The growth rate– this is expressed as a percentage; its a figure on a yearly basis. Nigeria is estimated to be at 2.6% in 2017, while the whole West Africa is estimated at 367 million- these corresponding figures represent a rather high rate of population growth in Nigeria and the West Africa Coast.
  • Spatial distribution– the spatial distribution of population is the geographic distribution of this population for instance West Africa has a total population of about 367 million people out of which Nigeria has 186 million of that population which is approximately of the entire population of African population.
  • Demography structure– it is the reflection of how things line up or are classified within the population for example, the ratio of males to females, number of spoken languages, age distribution etc.
  • Quality of population- this is an analysis of some critical factors such as education, health, and social welfare. All of these factors influence level of development of a country and how backward a countrys population is. In Japan, the literate rate is put at over 90%, however, The presence of these factors in a countrys population is a key marker that determines whether a country is developed or is developing.

Human population growth rate

Human population growth rate increased significantly as the industrial revolution gathered momentum from around 1700 onwards. The past half-decade have witness yet more increase in the rate of population growth due to medical advances and substantial increases in agricultural production, particularly beginning in the 1960s made by the green revolution. In 2007, the UN population is division projected that the world population will likely surpass 10 billion in 2055. The population has already declined in Europe, the Baltics and in the common wealth nations. The population of the developing regions of the world in recent years has been marked by gradually declining birth rates with most averaging 2.0%. However, this percentage is relatively high compared to the developed regions of the world. This gradual decline follows an earlier sharp reduction in death rates. This transition from high birth rates and death rates to low birth and death rates is often referred to as the demographic transition.

Problems of human population

  1. Economic stagnation: In some poor societies, the population sizes tend to double within twenty to thirty years (two to three decades). For this reason, industries, housing, schools, health clinic and infrastructure must be built at least at the same rate of growth so that the standards of living do not deteriorate. Many communities are unable to keep up as is evident from high unemployment rates, explosive growth of slum populations, overcrowded schools, health facilities and dilapidated public infrastructure such as road, bridges, sewage systems, electric power, telecommunication, and pipe water. Additionally, rapid growing populations are made up of young age structures. The resulting low ratio of workers to dependents depresses standard of living and makes it more difficult to invest in the physical and human capital needed for expanding economies. The size of the formal labour force is also limited by the need for women to remain at home to take care of their large families.
  2. Political unrest: More than half of the population of the developing world is under the age twenty (20years). Unemployment is widespread as a result of unstable economies which affects the provision of job for the rapidly growing number of young people seeking to enter the labour force. There is a vigorous competition for limited number of jobs which leads to low wages and in turn contributes to poverty and poor standard of living. The presence of large numbers of unemployed and frustrated males likely contributes to socio-economic tensions, high crime rate and instability.
  3. Collapsing infrastructure: Many cities in the third world countries do not have an infrastructure that is capable of dealing with the rapid increase in population. However, the government do not have sufficient funds available to maintain the facilities or the ability to improve them. Another particular problem that arises is due to inadequacy of roads and sewerage networks.
  4. Increased volume of traffic on poorly maintained roads: there is so much congestion which increases therate of fatalroadaccidents resulting from bad roads,poorly-maintainedvehicles and careless driving.
  5. Poor water supply: Water supply is often polluted as inadequate sewerage facilities allow the spread of harmful bacteria. In some parts of the world, death from water borne disease is one of the biggest causes of high infant mortality rates.
  6. Poor housing facilities and services: Shanty towns give rise to most problems typical of underdeveloped world cities. On arrival at the city, it is very common to see majority of the migrants looking for house for themselves; they may have to create their own shelters, live on the streets or out of no choice, they may rent a single room to live in. In Calcutta, Hotbed Hotels rents rooms on an eight-hour basis while in Mexico City; over ten millions of people live in shanty towns. A shanty town often lacks adequate infrastructure, including proper sanitation, safe water supply, electricity, hygienic streets, or other basic necessities to support human settlements.
  7. most shanty towns are located outside the city on inappropriate land which is prone to flooding, or very steeply slope, increasing the chances of landslide. Flooding is a very serious problem faced in shantytowns areas, especially in developing countries during the rainy seasons. The drainage is poorly constructed leading to difficulty in accessing the roads due to the flood, thus leading to the flood disaster and outbreak of air borne diseases.
  8. Inadequate employment: this means that a lot of people will have to source for other ways of earning money on daily a basis to survive. For example, In Manila, children scavenge on refuse sites collecting cans for recycling. This is very unpleasant; the risk of injury is high and any cuts will become infected leading to a greater problem. Hospital waste is also dumped on these sites with hypodermic needles adding to dangers of serious infection.

Solutions to human population growth

Solutions to any problem are made more difficult by the lack of available resources and the sheer scale of the problems faced. However, some measures could still be employed to reduce the overwhelming problem of population.

  1. The use effective family planning- this has a way of reducing birth rate and hence, the rate of population growth.
  2. The quality of life in rural areas should be improved through the provision of social amenities such as water, electricity, schools and good roads.
  3. Investment and employment opportunities should be sorted out by the government and created so as to engage the growing population.
  4. The agricultural sector should be improved as well for example, through mechanization, irrigation farming, and the use of fertilizers can greatly improve rural life and reduce the congestion in urban areas.
  5. Site and service scheme should be adopted- this scheme helps in solving the problem of squatter settlements and it is very common in India and Brazil. It is a scheme whereby the government will provide a site (a small concrete hut) and other basic amenities like water and sewer facilities. In this case, the migrant is given rights of ownership and then expected to complete the work at his/her expenses. This is often done as a cooperative between groups of migrants. In other situations, the authorities could just provide the plots and building materials for the migrants to construct their own homes. These schemes are relatively cheap and they give the migrants a sense of control over their future and also encourage community spirit.
  6. Rehabilitation: Another alternative to the above scheme is to provide the residents of shanty towns with the building materials to improve their existing shelters. Residents are also encouraged to set up community schemes to improve education and medical services. The residents may also be given rights of ownership whilst local authorities come in and provide electricity, water and sewerage disposal. This has been done in Bolivia and Pakistan before. It is a cheaper option than the site and service schemes, but may simply hide the actual problems. The infections may not have been removed but the land is still unsuitable for habitation and the water/sewer system may still not be adequate for the residents.
  7. Housing Developments: Some countries like Singapore and few others have embarked upon massive re-housing programs, resulting in high-rise estates. Large areas of shanty towns were cleared, town blocks were built and the shanty town residents are given a new house to live in. early apartment blocks were very similar to those found in UK and faced similar problems. One of such problems was people using the lifts as toilets; this was stopped when lifts were made sensitive to urine and locked on the offenders. They then had to wait to be released, facing much embarrassment and were made to pay very heavy fine.