Over-population and under-population

Over-population is when there are too many people, to be supported to a good standard of living, by the resources of a region or country.

Under-population is when a region or country has insufficient workers to exploit their resources efficiently, to support retired populations and to provide growth. i.e. too few people to use all the resources of an area to the maximum efficiency. Rural areas in LICs may become under-populated where agricultural production has fallen and depopulation has occurred. It could also happen when land in rural areas is abandoned as people migrate to urban areas, natural hazards, war and communicable diseases such as HIV.

Most areas considered under-populated today are large in area and rich in resources. Examples include Canada, Australia and Mongolia.

The main cause of overpopulation is high birth rates and falling death rates, leading to natural increase. The impacts of over-population include:

  • Water – around the world more than 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. Over-population puts significant demand on agricultural production, which in itself consumes more water than any other sector.
  • Food – by 2050 the global demand for food could be greater than production. Almost a billion people didn’t have enough food to lead a healthy life in 2015.
  • Environment – climate change, due to human emissions of greenhouse gases, is a major consequence of overpopulation. The impact of climate change includes more extreme climate events, loss of natural ecosystems and sea-level rise.
  • Services – pressure is put on services such as education, health care and social services due.
  • Congestion – greater demand for public transport and more cars on the road lead to congestion and increased air pollution.

The impacts of under-population include:

  • a shortage of workers
  • fewer people to pay tax
  • closure of services
  • wasted resources

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