Population is both the ‘means’ and the ‘end’ of economic activities. In fact, population growth and economic development are closely related to each other.

The influence of population growth upon economic development of a country has always been a point of attraction.

Adam Smith wrote,

“The annual labour of every nation is the fund which originally supplies with all the necessaries and conveniences of life.”

It was only Malthus and Kicardo who created an alarm about the adverse effect of population growth on the, economy.


Underdeveloped countries are passing through the stage of population explosion. This population explosion has nullified whatever gains of economic development have accrued to them during the past few decades. For example—rapid population growth of India has been proving to be a great obstacle to the success of economic development.

All the fruits of economic development through Five-year Plans have been eaten up by the rapid growth of population. On the other hand all exceptions proved to be utter failure as their rapid industrialisation was followed by the growth of population which proved boon to the economic development of developed countries. Hence we shall study the relationship of population with economic development of a country.

Population and Economic Development:

Population is closely related with economic development. Population influences economic development and economic development influences population. It is correctly stated that, “Population is wealth to a nation or may be a liability.” Population is an imperative source of economic development but under some circumstances it becomes a growth retarding factor. It is an important source of supplying cheap labour which in turn helps in producing commodities at low cost.


The large population also encourages division of labour and large scale production. It also boosts demand, enlarges the market size and provides much needed inducement to invest and provides sufficient manpower to exploit country’s natural resources. This is particularly the case where the majority of people depends upon agriculture for their livelihood. Thus, the pattern of population growth and the environment in which the growth takes place are the important factors which decide whether population will be a growth promoting or growth retarding factor.

The supply of capital, level of technology, quality of manpower and urge for innovations also determine the nature of effect of population on economic development. In a technologically advanced country with abundance of capital, rapidly growing population will be an economic necessity and will have growth promoting effect.

On the other hand, in capital poor and technologically backward country, rapidly growing population is a burden and it tends to neutralize the efforts on society towards its development. All economic development has been eaten by population explosion. Poverty, crimes and unemployment dominate the economy.