Population, Poverty, and the Local Environment
Partha S. Dasgupta
- Some would point to population growth as the cause of poverty and environmental degradation.
- Others would permute the elements of this causal chain, arguing, for example, that poverty is the cause rather than the consequence of increasing numbers
- Economists have typically not regarded poverty, population growth and the local environment as interconnected
- The sharing of resources within a household is often unequal even when differences in needs are taken into account
- In poor households in the Indian subcontinent, for example, men and boys usually get more sustenance than do women and girls, and the elderly get less than the young
- Total fertility rate= number of babies a woman would have if she survived through her childbearing years
- Total fertility rate in sub-Saharan Africa is between 6 to 8
- Fertility decreases when a larger share of the paid employment belongs to women
- In a society where female life expectancy at birth is 50 years and the fertility rate is 7, nearly half of a woman’s adult life is spent either carrying a child in her womb or breast-feeding it
- High fertility, high rates of illiteracy, low share of paid employment, and high % of working at home with no pay are all connected
- Possibility that lack of paid employment and education limits a woman’s ability to make decisions and therefore promotes population growth
- Too many children leads to overcrowding, susceptibility to disease and pressure on the environment and limited resources.
- As the community's resources are depleted, more kids are born to gather water and fuel, thus damaging the environment.
- Fertility is lower in countries where citizens have more civil and political freedom.
A large population growth is a big problem right now, especially in developing countries. Usually, women have a high total fertility rate (the average number of babies a woman has if she survives her childbearing years). In sub-Saharan Africa, that number is between 6 and 8. Couples in those developing countries produce more children since they need as many hands as they can to help the family out; they collect water, feed livestock. Kids as young as 6 care for their younger siblings, fetch water, and collect firewood. Children between the ages of 10 and 15 work as much as one and a half times as grown men do. In addition, women are sadly generally less educated, limiting their ability to make decisions, which can promote population growth.