The Population Media Center reports the global population is increasing by about 80 million people every year. The world’s current population is projected to double in the next 49 years. Overpopulation is a phenomenon experienced when the number of people in an area surpasses the resources available to sufficiently sustain them. Overpopulation has a myriad of causes and effects on humans, social, economic and environmental systems. Gaining an understanding of the causes and effects of population growth is essential to solving unemployment and many other problems in a society.
Government policies regarding population influence the population growth behaviors in a country. Although there is voluntary birth control, government policies that reward larger families encourage higher reproduction. Some of these policies in the United States include tax exemption and child credits. Evidently, policies which reward higher reproduction encourage overpopulation. Overpopulation creates higher competition for finite work opportunities, leaving others to find employment and others to lack.
Over the decades a remarkable improvements in public health have occurred, such as advancements in finding vaccinations for life threatening illnesses. Other factors such as better nutrition and sanitation have lowered the death rates. These advancements in health have not only brought better living standards but have greatly contributed to the population increase, especially as witnessed in the wake of the 20th century. The population increase seen from the 20th to the 21st centuries has affected the employment situation. This is particularly true in the developing and least developed countries where populations burgeon faster than the rate of economic development.
Although birth rates are generally declining, immigration contributes significantly to the population growth of a country. Migration from developing to developed countries is a cause for concern for the latter. The high influx of immigrants to countries such as the United States strains social systems such as healthcare. This is largely due to illegal immigrants not contributing to the taxation system. Immigration, especially that which is illegal, has also resulted to lower wages and competition for jobs between immigrants and locals. Illegal immigrants also remain unemployed for longer periods of time, therefore exacerbating the unemployment situation.
According to Laurie Mazur of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, empowered women have the capacity to change trends in environmental degradation and eventually unemployment. In fact 200 million women globally do not have family planning education, resulting in higher birth rates. Environmental degradation is an effect of overpopulation and causes "environmental employees" working in agriculture and forestry to lose jobs or face the risk of this. Providing greater access to ethical birth control methods for women will contribute to reducing the rate of population growth and its harm to the environment and those depending on it for a livelihood.
- Population Media Center: The Magnitude of Population Growth and Its Consequences
- The Institute Emerging Ethics and Technologies: Life Extension and Overpopulation; Rameez Naam: May 2005
- Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists A neglected climate strategy: Empower women, slow population growth; Laurie Mazur: October 2009
Diana Wicks is a Canadian residing in Vancouver. She began writing in 2004 while still a student at Lincoln School of Journalism, in the city of London. She has worked as Chief Editor of Business Chronicle, an online magazine based in London. Wicks holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in journalism and a Master of Business Administration from the London School of Economics.