Pakistan, poverty trap and its population growth
With an estimated population of 165 million and a population growth rate of about 2 per cent per annum, the country’s population is increasing by 3.3 million people a year. This high rate of growth is the biggest hurdle standing in the way of efforts to reduce poverty
At Pakistan’s last official national census in 1998, the population was 132.4 million, with an intercensul annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent. In mid-2001, the population was estimated at 142.5 million, with a growth rate of 2.1 per cent. At the end of 2007, it was estimated at 165 million, with a growth rate of 1.9 per cent – according to official estimates. Some independent ...view middle of the document...
Chapter 2 of the government’s population plan says: “Pakistan’s population looms large in relation to its development and other goals. The tale of Pakistan’s population is like a Greek tragedy, heading inexorably towards a denouement. Whatever progress is achieved in economic indicators – be it agricultural produce, industrial output, GNP – will be vitiated, or at least seriously diluted, because of our burgeoning population. Unless forceful measures are adopted without delay, the sheer logistics of feeding, educating, employing and caring for the basic needs of our people will become increasingly unmanageable. To make matters worse, over the past half-century Pakistan has been left so far behind in the crucial area of population that we now have a great deal of catching up to do.”
Pakistan’s (the former West Pakistan’s) population has quadrupled since independence in 1947. About 3.3 million people are added to the population every year. According to official figures, Pakistan now has a per capita GDP of about $ 950, with 24 per cent of its population living below the poverty line, as measured by the income-yardstick of a dollar a day per person.
But this 24 per cent figure is disputed by independent analysts, who argue that the actual figure is over 35 per cent.
Even if we use the government figure of 24 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, it still translates into about 40 million people – a huge number by any standard.
In early 1994, Pakistan’s population was estimated to be 126 million, making it the 9th most populous country in the world. Its land area, however, ranks 32nd among nations. Thus Pakistan, in 1994, had about 2 per cent of the world’s then-population living on less than 0.7 per cent of the world’s land. Its population growth rate at that time was among the world’s highest, officially estimated at 3.1 per cent a year, but privately thought to be closer to 3.3 per cent a year by many planners involved in population programmes.
By 2000, Pakistan’s population had reached 150 million, accounting for 4 per cent of the world’s population growth between 1994 and 2000. Its population is expected to double between 1994 and 2022. According to an assessment carried out by the United Nations Population Fund in January 2003, if the present annual growth rate continues, Pakistan’s population is expected to reach about 357 million by the year 2050, making it the world’s 4th most populous nation (after China, India and the United States).
Nearly a third of Pakistan’s population is below the age of nine. For cultural reasons, enumerating the precise number of females has been difficult – and estimates of the percentage of females in the population range from 47.5 in the 1981 census to 48.3 per cent in the 1987-88 Labour Force Survey. Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world with an inverse sex ratio; government officials claim there are 111 men for every 100 women. The discrepancy is particularly obvious among...