World Population Day (11th July, 2018)

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In biology, a population is all the organisms of the same group or species, which live in a particular geographical area, and have the capability of interbreeding. The area that is used to define a sexual population is defined as the area where inter-breeding is potentially possible between any pair within the area, and where the probability of interbreeding is greater than the probability of cross-breeding with individuals from other areas.

Human population refers to the number of people living in a particular area, from a village to the world as a whole. A secondary meaning of population is the inhabitants themselves, but in most uses population means numbers.

Population growth in essence is an increase in the number of people that reside in a country, state, county, or city. To determine whether there has been population growth, the following formula is used: (birth rate + immigration) - (death rate + emigration). Businesses and governmental bodies use this information to make determinations about investing in certain communities or regions.

It is believed that currently there are 7.6 billion people in the world. The increase has been influenced by;

  • High fertility rate – due to gains in life expectancy that has been achieved in recent years.
  • International migration – countries receiving immigrants are greatly affected
  • Economic development.  Countries who are in the early stages of economic development tend to have higher rates of population growth
  • Education. In developed countries, education is usually compulsory until the age of 16. As education becomes compulsory, children are no longer economic assets – but economic costs.
  • Quality of children – less children better life for them
  • Welfare payments/State pensions – Attractive state retirement benefits scheme means couples don’t need to have children to provide an effective retirement support when they are old.
  • Social and cultural factors- many African countries still feel that having many children is an advantage
  • Availability of family planning - Increased availability and awareness  of contraception can enable women to limit family size closer to the desired level
  • Female labour market participation – work and career development may influence  birth rate
  • Death rates – disease epidemics  may for example may result in  a large death rate
  • Historical factors/war -  In the post-war period, western countries saw a ‘boom’ in population

There are measures that can be taken to curb an increase in human population. Some countries have employed these methods to control their ballooning population;

Delayed Marriages- popular in countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan

Medical Facilities – number of children born

 Countries population tends to vary every minute and day. In other words there is no country with stagnant population. Changes occur when citizens emigrate; an emigrant is a person who decides to leave his/her country of origin. This person is then referred to as an immigrant in the country of destination. What then attract people to migrate to other countries? These factors could vary from country to country, but immigration may occur because of the following reasons;

  • Better jobs
  • Higher wages
  • More jobs
  • Promise of “better life”- sometimes leading to brain drain
  • Principles of religious tolerance
  • Attractive environment, probably beautiful sceneries
  • Better services
  • Good climate
  • Political security and stability
  • Attractive quality of life
  • Fertile land
  • Better infrastructure
  • Family reunification
  • Career advancement
  • Availability of good quality education 

On the other hand, people may be push out of their original country because of;

  • Over population
  • Few jobs
  • Low wages
  • Intolerance towards certain cultural groups
  • Religious persecution
  • Occurrence of natural disasters such as drought, flood, earthquake, pollution, famine etc
  • Government restriction on citizens
  • Lack of adequate medical care
  • Career advancement & education opportunity
  • Poor infrastructure
  • Starvation or lack of food
  • Lack of services and amenities
  • Poor security
  • Crime
  • Crop failure
  • Diseases e.g. epidemics e.g. such as  cholera, malaria etc

Compiled by Grace C. Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library